Sunday, July 12, 2020

Caste Discrimination Rampant Among Silicon Valley Indian-Americans

Over two-thirds of low caste Indian-Americans are discriminated against by upper caste Indian-Americans in Silicon Valley, according to a report by Equality Labs, an organization of Dalits in America. Dalits also report hearing derogatory comments about Muslim job applicants at tech companies. These revelations have recently surfaced in a California state lawsuit against Silicon Valley tech giant Cisco Systems.


Religious Discrimination:

Both caste and religious discrimination are rampant among Indian-Americans in Silicon Valley. Back in 2009,  there was a religious discrimination lawsuit filed  against Vigai, a South Indian restaurant in Silicon Valley. In the lawsuit filed in Santa Clara County Superior Court, Abdul Rahuman, 44, and Nowsath Malik Shaw, 39, both of San Jose, alleged they were harassed for being Muslim by Vaigai's two owners, a manager and a top chef — a violation of the Fair Employment and Housing Act, according to a report in the San Jose Mercury News.

According to the complaint, restaurant personnel regularly used ethnic slurs such as "Thulakkan," a pejorative term for Muslims in Sri Lankan Tamil dialect, to harass the two Muslim cooks. Also according to the complaint, restaurant staff were encouraged to call the plaintiffs by names such as "Rajan" or "Nagraj" under the pretext of not wanting to upset customers who might stop patronizing the restaurant if they heard the men referred to by their Muslim names.
Modi in Silicon Valley

The complaint also stated that the plaintiffs were forced to participate in a religious ceremony despite telling the owners it was against their Islamic beliefs. The complaint alleged that the restaurant owners insisted on their participation and proceeded to smear a powder on their foreheads, making the religious marking known as a "tilak."

Upper Caste Silicon Valley

"Dominant castes who pride themselves as being only of merit have just converted their caste capital into positions of power throughout the Silicon Valley," says Thenmozhi Soundarajan of Equality Labs. Vast majority of Indian-Americans in Silicon Valley support India's Islamophobic Prime MInister Narendra Modi. Modi held a huge rally at a large venue in Silicon Valley where he received a rousing welcome in 2015.

Caste vs Race in America:

Contrary to The International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD) that includes discrimination based on caste, most Indian-Americans argue that race is not caste . Dating back to 1969, the ICERD convention has been ratified by 173 countries, including India. California’s lawsuit reinforces that caste is race. It will now make it harder for companies to ignore caste discrimination. While the US has no specific law against the Indian caste system, the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing has filed the lawsuit against Cisco using a section of America’s historic Civil Rights Act which bars race-based discrimination. Here is an excerpt of an article published in TheWire.in on the lawsuit recently:

"In October 2016, two colleagues informed John Doe, a principal engineer at Cisco, that his supervisor, Sundar Iyer, had told them that he (Doe) was from the “Scheduled Castes” and had made it to the Indian Institute of Technology via affirmative action. “Iyer was aware of Doe’s caste because they attended IIT at the same time,” said the case. The suit says that, when confronted by Doe, Iyer denied having disclosed his caste. In November 2016, Doe contacted Cisco’s HR over the matter. Within a week of doing so, Iyer reportedly informed Doe he was taking away Doe’s role as lead on two technologies. Iyer also removed team members from a third technology that Doe was working on and reduced his role to that of an independent contributor and he was isolated from his colleagues, the lawsuit says. In December 2016, Doe filed a written complaint with HR on the matter."

Summary:

Caste discrimination is rampant among Indian-Americans and NRIs (Non-resident Indians) in Silicon Valley with 67% of low caste Indians reporting being victims of such discrimination in workplace. Muslims also face employment discrimination in some of the workplaces dominated by Indian managers. California state has filed a lawsuit against Silicon Valley tech giant Cisco Systems alleging caste discrimination.

Related Links:

Haq's Musings

South Asia Investor Review

Bigotry Bedevils Silicon Valley Indian Restaurant

India Ranked as Most Racist in the World

Indians Admire Israel and Hitler

Caste Apartheid in India

Mahatma Gandhi and His Struggle With India

Who Killed Karkare?

Procrastinating on Hindutva Terror

India's Guantanamos and Abu Ghraibs

Hindutva Government in Israeli Exile?

Growing US-India Military Ties Worry Pakistan

The 21st Century Challenges For Resurgent India

Riaz Haq's YouTube Channel

PakAlumni Social Network

53 comments:

samir sardana said...

For the dark skinned South Indians who profile and harass Muslims - it would be a revelation from them to know what the Hindoo Scriptures think of the dark skinned or black skinned Indians !

This deep rooted inferiority complex could explain their treatment of Muslims.This is Part 1 of the Tri-ology !

 South Indians are the "Sinful creatures" of Earth

 The Mahabharata, Book 12: Santi Parva: Mokshadharma Parva: Section CCVII

 I shall now, O son of Kunti, speak to thee about "the sinful creatures" of the earth. Listen to me. 2 Those men, O king, are "born in the southern region" and are called Andrakas, Guhas, Pulindas,Savaras, Chuchukas, "Madrakas"

 South Indians are the "dirt of every nation"

 The Mahabharata, Book 8: Karna Parva: Section 45

 The Madrakas are regarded on Earth as the "dirt of every nation". So the Madra woman is called the "dirt of the whole female sex"

 South Indians are "not creatures of God"

 The Mahabharata, Book 8: Karna Parva: Section 44

 They are "not creatures created by the Creator". Being of such low origin, how can they be conversant with the duties ordained in the scriptures? The Karashakas, the Mahishakas, the "Kalingas", the"Keralas", the Karkotakas, the Virakas, and other peoples of no religion, one should always avoid.’

 South Indians are the "lowest of mankind" till they are "dead and beyond"

 The Mahabharata, Book 8: Karna Parva: Section 40

 He that hateth us is a Madraka. There is no friendship in the Madraka who is mean in speech and is the "lowest of mankind". The Madraka is always a person of wicked soul, "is always untruthful and crooked". It hath been heard by us that till the moment of death the Madrakas are wicked.

 South Indians are the "dirt of humanity"

 The Mahabharata, Book 8: Karna Parva: Section 40

 The Madraka is always the "dirt of humanity".

 South Indians are "degraded into Sudras"

 The Mahabharata, Book 13: Anusasana Parva: Anusasanika Parva: Section XXXIII

 The Dravidas, the Kalingas, the Pulandas, the Usinaras, the Kolisarpas, the Mahishakas and other Kshatriyas, have, in consequence of the absence of Brahmanas from among their midst, become degraded into Sudras.

Farooq A. said...

How can they identify one as lower caste? Is it just because one had dark skin or some other connections?

Riaz Haq said...

Farooq: "How can they identify one as lower caste? Is it just because one had dark skin or some other connections?"


Story started back 20 years to ITT Mumbai, India when they didn’t see the guy's name on the general merit list, and so figured that he had been admitted to the prestigious institution via reservations, India’s affirmative action program for Dalits.

https://thewire.in/caste/cisco-caste-discrimination-silicon-valley-dalit-prejudice

Riaz Haq said...

Anti-#Dalit Slogans in #Delhi Anti-#Muslim Pogrom: ‘Bhimti Hai Kya? Kaat Daalo’ (Cut Down #Untouchables): "Kapil Mishra tum lath bajao, hum tumhare saath hain. Mullo par tum lath bajao hum tumhare saath hain. Ch***ro par tum lath bajao" #India #BJP #Modi https://www.thequint.com/news/politics/northeast-delhi-riots-dalits-muslims-hindutva-kapil-mishra-bjp

(Kapil Mishra, you attack with sticks, we are with you. Attack Muslims with sticks, we are with you. Attack Jatav Dalits with sticks, we are with you. Attack Bhim Army Chief Chandrashekhar Azad ‘Ravan’ with sticks, we are with you)

-------------------
Kapil Mishra said ‘Those who clean toilets in our homes, should we place them on our heads?” The crowd replied “Certainly not!”
Complainant

--------------

These were some of the slogans being chanted in Northeast Delhi on the afternoon of 23 February, according to a complaint received at the Delhi Police Headquarters a day later.

The Quint has accessed several such complaints related to the Northeast Delhi riots which indicate that the anger of one section of the pro-Hindutva side wasn't just towards Muslims and anti-Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) protesters but the Dalit community as well.

The complaints also allege that the police was an active party to this.

This story will provide excerpts from three such complaints, in addition to a video of self-styled Hindutva leader Ragini Tiwari in which she can be seen calling for a Dalit activist to be "cut down". The story will also provide views of several experts on why such targetting of Dalits took place during the Delhi riots.

Complaint 1: Dalits Attacked and ‘Casteist Slogans Raised by Kapil Mishra’s Supporters’
This is one of the first complaints related to the Northeast Delhi riots, filed on 23 February, the day when violence broke out.

“Today on 23.02.2020 since around 2'o clock in the afternoon, attempts were made to disturb peace and harmony. To disturb the peace a mob of 20 to 25 people were raising provocative slogans and chants like ‘Kapil Mishra, you attack with sticks, we are with you. Attack Muslims with sticks, we are with you. Attack Jatav Dalits with sticks, we are with you. Attack (Bhim Army Chief) Ravan with sticks, we are with you’

After some time, Mr Kapil Mishra along with few of his henchmen who were armed with guns, swords, tridents, spears, sticks, stones, bottles etc gathered there and started chanting communal and casteist chants and slogans.

Thereafter Mr Kapil Mishra began giving an inflammatory speech wherein he said, "Yeh hamare ghar toilet saaf karne waalo ko kya ab hum apne sar par bithayenge" To which his henchmen replied "Bilkul nahi".

Kapil Mishra said ‘Those who clean toilets in our homes, should we place them on our heads?” The crowd replied “Certainly not!”
Complainant


“After this Mr Kapil Mishra said ‘Yeh mulle pehle CAA aur NRC ko lekar protest kar rahe the aur ab yeh aarakshan ko lekar bhi protest karne lage hain. Ab to inhe sabak sikhana hi padega’

(Till now, these Muslims were protesting on CAA and NRC now they have started protesting on the issue of reservation as well. They need to be taught a lesson.)“

This refers to the blockade carried out by anti-CAA protesters on 23 February in solidarity with the Bharat Bandh called by Bhim Army on the issue of reservations

“Cars were stopped and cars belonging to Muslims and Dalits were identified and Muslims were called anti-nationals and mulle whereas Dalits were hurled casteist slurs and their cars were vandalised and they were physically assaulted.

Mr Kapil Mishra was inciting the crowd by airing his gun in the open and shouting ‘don't leave these bastards. Today we need to teach them such a lesson that they forget how to protest”.

In response to this Mr Kapil Mishra and his henchmen in a well planned conspiracy started assaulting the individuals belonging to minority and Dalit communities, which caused fear in these communities.”

Riaz Haq said...

Upper Caste #Hindus dominate #India's #SocialMedia: Dr. B.R. Ambedkar on Brahmins: “(T)he Brahmins....is not only an intellectual class, but it is a class which is held in great reverence by the rest of the Hindus.” #Hindutva #Modi https://theprint.in/opinion/indias-oppressed-groups-had-high-hopes-from-internet-but-upper-castes-got-in-there-too/463431/ via @ThePrintIndia

The Oxfam-Newslaundry report shows how upper castes dominate Indian newsrooms. But journalists like Rajat Sharma, Sudhir Chaudhary and Rahul Kanwal have also emerged as influencers on digital space

---------

Journalists with the most Twitter followers in India are mostly upper caste Hindus. Out of the 20 most followed, 19 belong to the upper caste. There is no one from the SC, ST or OBC category. Seven of them are women, and Rubika Liyaquat is the only Muslim person on the list. It appears as if the Internet and social media haven’t really been the upending force that they were imagined to be. Social media today isn’t the big equaliser promised of a decade ago.

In 2011, I was teaching a course on new media at New Delhi’s Indian Institute of Mass Communication. I would tell students that they could do journalism if they only had Rs 10 and access to a cyber cafe. The Internet, at least in its early years, seemed like it would be a democratic medium. As Scott Gant, author of We’re All Journalists Now, argued, “Freedom of the press now belongs not just to those who own printing presses, but also to those who use cell phones, video cameras, blogging software, and other technology to deliver news and views to the world.”

So, when the era of blogs and social media platforms ushered in, there was all-round euphoria that the media matrix of the big four — huge capital, veto power of the advertisers, dominant ideology, and government control — can now be challenged by millions of ‘nobodies’.

In India’s context, the David in this case were the subalterns — Dalits, Adivasis, Muslims, and the other backward classes — who were not represented at all in the legacy newsrooms, at least certainly not in leadership positions. But 10 years down the line, the Internet hasn’t really democratised anything and just replicated social hierarchies online as well. The Oxfam-Newslaundry report, released in August 2019, has empirically demonstrated how caste-ridden, hierarchical structure is persistent in Indian newsrooms.

Digital media too isn’t a democratic space
My hypothesis when social media became a tool in most people’s hands was that the voiceless underclass of India will finally express themselves in a massive way in the digital space, because they have countless stories to tell and the financial threshold to own a media platform has been lowered.

Riaz Haq said...

#India’s #Iran romance endures despite the huge gap between hype & reality in ties but costs of neglecting #Arabian business are far higher than a lost railway contract in Iran. #Chabahar #GCC #Arabs #SaudiArabia #UAE #Modi #Pakistan https://indianexpress.com/article/opinion/columns/chabahar-rail-project-india-iran-relations-us-sanctions-c-raja-mohan-6515415/ via @IndianExpress

The theory of the case in Delhi for an extra-special relationship with Iran rests on a number of claims — historical connections, civilisational bonds, energy supplies and regional security. All these factors are of far greater import in India’s engagement with the Arabian peninsula. Millions of Indian immigrants in the Arab nations, massive hard currency remittances from them, and the density of commercial engagement with the Arab Gulf outweigh the relationship with Iran. The UAE and Saudi Arabia have, in recent years, extended invaluable support in countering terrorism and blocked attempts to condemn India in the Muslim world.

The sources of this curious inversion in India’s intellectual imagination are many. But first to the latest anxiety in Delhi about the loss of a railway contract in Iran. Large countries with major foreign investments and projects win some and lose some. That is part of doing business in other countries. Then there is no escaping the political risk associated with foreign projects. And politics — both domestic and international — is all-consuming in Iran.

The sanctions regime imposed by the US has crippled the Iranian economy. It also targets third countries that do business with certain Iranian entities. India is careful not to attract the US sanctions. India did gain an exemption from the US sanctions regime for its participation in the Chabahar port project in Iran. But they don’t apply to some of the partners suggested by Iran in the railway project. Iran would like India to break the US sanctions regime. A prudent Delhi is resisting that temptation. It would rather lose the railway contract than get into the raging crossfire between the US and Iran.

Sections of the foreign policy elite, however, see India’s Iran policy as a continuous purity test for Delhi’s “strategic autonomy”. They expect Delhi to conduct its relationship with Iran without a reference to either a cost-benefit calculus or Iran’s troubled relationship with others with whom India has important partnerships. For the romantics, it is about proving Delhi’s friendship with Tehran by defying the US.

No government in Delhi can buy into that proposition. The criticism of the NDA government today is similar to that directed at the UPA government in 2005 over its stance on Iran’s covert nuclear programme. As the US mounted pressure on Iran to come clean 15 years ago, there was a strong view in Delhi that India should cast its lot with Tehran. But pragmatists pointed to one of the preconditions for the India-US nuclear deal — Delhi’s strong commitment to prevent the proliferation of nuclear weapons. Backing Iran in its nuclear confrontation with the non-proliferation treaty (NPT), they warned, would mean killing support in the US Congress for the historic civil nuclear initiative signed by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and President George W Bush in July 2005.

Riaz Haq said...

Yet another case of Indian managers favoring Indians emerges, this time at Intel


https://indicanews.com/2019/10/02/yet-another-case-of-indian-managers-favoring-indians-emerges-this-time-at-intel/

A Korean American engineer has sued chipmaker Intel Corp for allegedly allowing its Indian managers to illegally favor Indians in hiring and promotions, the far-right news outlet Breitbart reported.

According to Hoseong Ryu’s lawsuit filed in California, “Throughout the course of his employment, Ryu has worked in an environment with management that favors employees who are from India or of Indian or South Asian descent and disfavors employees who do not fall into that category”.

The suit said Intel’s actions occurred in circumstances “that give rise to a reasonable inference of discrimination” based on racial and national origin.

The suit comes at a time when a growing number of Americans and legal immigrants argue that Indian managers and recruiters are excluding young and experienced Americans from jobs in the country’s software industries and favoring Indians instead.

The evidence of routine discrimination is piling up amid multiple lawsuits, testimony from sidelined Americans, and statements from Indians.

“I have had four on-site interviews since being laid off and interviews with 18 people during those interviews,” a US graduate told Breitbart News Sept 30. “A full 13 of them appeared to have been born in India and only one seemed to be likely US-born. That may have been partially bad luck … Still, it seems to point out a risk of one nationality getting too high a representation in the hiring process.”

zen said...

riaz, commenting here after a long time..

While this CISCO caste thing got some news attention, I am afraid that blatant discrimination against Muslims in general and Pakistanis in particular at teh hands of Indian (origin) managers in West goes unnoticed.

In Germany I personally knew a Modi fanatic manager from Mumbai who wouldn't give CVs of Muslim a second look. Luckily, locals do not have that level of prejudice.

Are there Muslim civil rights orgs in USA monitoring the situation?

Riaz Haq said...

Even as India urbanises, caste discrimination remains rife
Cities are segregated, and inter-caste marriages are vanishingly rare


https://www.economist.com/asia/2020/07/23/even-as-india-urbanises-caste-discrimination-remains-rife

In the (Indian) government as in the private sector, the highest positions remain a near-monopoly for the three top tiers or varnas of the broader caste pyramid: the brahmins or priestly class, the kshatriyas or warrior class and the vaishyas or merchant class, who between them account for perhaps 20% of India’s 1.3bn people. It is not just the 220m Dalits, or the 190m Muslims, or the 110m from “scheduled tribes” who are under-represented, but also the 40-50% of Hindus who come from the widest tier of the pyramid, the shudras or labouring castes, known as Other Backwards Classes (obcs).

Out of the 89 highest-ranked civil servants in the central government, according to a recent survey, just four are not upper-caste Hindus, and not one is an obc. Two-thirds of the Supreme Court’s 31 judges and more than half of all state governors are high-caste Hindus. When the home ministry recently formed a panel to revise the criminal code, its five experts were all men, all from north India and all from upper castes. The trend is just as stark outside of government. A study published last year of the mainstream Hindi and English press revealed that out of 121 people in senior jobs, such as editors, all but 15 were upper caste. Not a single one was a Dalit.

Just as positive discrimination was supposed to equalise workplaces, it was hoped that demographic change, such as migration from villages to cities, would break down caste rigidities. Optimists pointed to greater mixing as people of multiple castes were often obliged by circumstance to share the same city wards. Stubbornly, however, statistics have shown that intermarriage between castes remains rare: just 6% of all couples at the most recent count.

An analysis of housing by a team led by Naveen Bharathi of Harvard University has revealed a striking persistence and, in some cases, an intensification of caste segregation. Using census data for 147 cities at the level of blocks rather than wards, and accounting not just for broad caste categories but for jati, which is to say the 5,000-odd subcaste “communities” that tend to marry among themselves, Mr Bharathi’s team found that segregation by caste in Indian cities is comparable to that by race in American ones. Whereas 60% of blocks in Ahmedabad, the biggest city in Gujarat, housed not a single Dalit, some 80% of Dalits lived in just 10% of the city. Inequality in Ahmedabad as measured by the Gini coefficient was more extreme than in Johannesburg, the most unequal city in South Africa, the world’s most unequal country.

Yet amid seeming stasis, Mr Bharathi also found a great deal of churn. “Barriers are breaking in cities, but it’s not the big barriers between castes,” he says. “It is the subcastes that are dissolving.” As the association of family names with traditional professions, which evoked some memories in villages, makes ever less sense in cities, there is less of a taboo around marrying into adjacent jatis within the same broader caste. At the same time, says Mr Bharathi, class differences are growing stronger. “If you zoom in on a Dalit slum, you will find that poorer Dalits don’t intermix with Dalits of slightly higher status living right next door.” Ambedkar, who assumed that the positive discrimination he prescribed in the constitution would end millennia of caste oppression, would be perplexed. ■

Riaz Haq said...

In yet another instance of alleged caste discrimination at an IT firm in the US, a former Indian-origin employee has filed a lawsuit against the American unit of HCL technologies — HCL America — alleging unlawful termination by a superior based on caste. According to a Moneycontrol report by Swathi Moorthy, the former employee filed a lawsuit on March 25, alleging that his superior Srinivas Chakravarty, a Kamma Naidu by caste, discriminated against him, a Kapu Naidu.

https://www.thenewsminute.com/article/after-cisco-hcl-sued-former-indian-employee-us-over-caste-discrimination-130118


The lawsuit has been filed in a superior court in California, according to Moneycontrol.

Kammas and Kapus have a history of differences that have also led to clashes, especially in the city of Vijayawada. More recently, the issue of reservation for the Kapus in education and jobs in Andhra Pradesh's government sector has heightened tensions between the two communities.

The former employee, who joined HCL in August 2018 in the US, alleged that the discrimination started in October 2018 when Srinivas Chakravarty joined the team as his superior.

As per the lawsuit, the former employee, in the capacity of a technical architect, worked on designing chips for companies like Intel and that he received appreciation for his work from Intel as well.

The lawsuit states that once Chakravarty joined, he started rating the employee poorly on weekly and bi-weekly reviews and was very critical of his work and even allegedly shouted at him during one-on-one review meetings. Chakravarty also allegedly did not take action when a fellow colleague called him ‘black’ due to his complexion, as per the report.

The former employee claims to have also complained to senior management, but to no avail.

He was then allegedly put on a performance improvement plan, made to work on weekends and was eventually terminated ‘for missing a day that he called in sick’ even after he cleared the performance improvement plan.

He also allegedly reached out to HCL for mediation, but when he received no response, he obtained a right to sue letter from the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) and then filed the lawsuit.

The employee told Moneycontrol that he came to know that Chakravarty was terminated soon after the lawsuit was filed but could not independently verify.

This instance has come to light soon after the Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) in California in the United States, on June 30, sued technology major Cisco and its former managers alleging caste-based discrimination at the workplace against a Dalit Indian-American employee. The federal lawsuit under the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and California's Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA), alleges that two former managers discriminated against the engineer because he is a Dalit.

He allegedly received less pay, fewer opportunities, and “other inferior terms and conditions of employment because of his religion, ancestry, national origin/ethnicity, and race/colour,” the lawsuit stated.

"It is unacceptable for workplace conditions and opportunities to be determined by a hereditary social status determined by birth. Employers must be prepared to prevent, remedy, and deter unlawful conduct against workers because of caste,” DFEH Director Kevin Kish said in a statement.

In both the lawsuits, a report by Equality Labs was quoted. ‘Caste in the United States’ report in 2018 was based on a survey done by the organisation, which had 1,500 respondents. The lawsuit against Cisco noted that according to the report, 67% Dalits surveyed felt discriminated against at the workplace in the US.

Riaz Haq said...

#India's #caste system is ruining lives in #SiliconValley. Over 90% of #Indian techies in #US are upper-caste Indians and they are making life hell for over 250 Dalit techies working in firms such as Google, Facebook, Microsoft, Apple & Netflix. #Hindutva https://zd.net/2RQNg05

It may seem bizarre that the caste system, a centuries-old system that organises and stratifies human society, continues to play a heavy role in deciding which Indians prosper and which don't within a space many consider to be an uber-meritocracy -- the US tech landscape.

A recent lawsuit against two Indians, filed by California's Department of Fair Employment and Housing on behalf of another Indian, has made waves over the past few months for all the wrong reasons. It has illuminated how the Indian caste system has terrorised one of the most marginalised groups in India.

Except, this time, it is happening in the US tech industry, a place that people normally associate with egalitarianism and a thirst for talent regardless of colour, race, religion, or any other creed.

Caste is a 2,000 year-old system for classifying society in the Indian subcontinent -- or whatever other definition that can be used for the geographic spread that was depleted and then amputated by British colonial rule.

In this stratification, the priests -- or the "Brahman" class -- were at the top, the warriors or "Kshatriyas" came next, the merchants or "Vaishyas" formed the third tier, while labourers, artisans, and servants, known as "Shudras", came last and essentially served the other three castes. Of course, it's not so simple -- in reality, there are over 5,000 castes and over 25,000 sub-castes in India, spawned by sheer geographical, cultural, and religious diversity.

What is homogenous across the country, however, is another category that exists completely outside of the caste system, on a rung so low that if you were forced to come up with the worst moral and physical degradations that you could think of, they would in all likelihood pale in comparison to what has transpired in India over centuries and continues to do so today.

These people that are deemed to be on the lowest rung are the Dalits. Self-named, Dalit means "oppressed", but they are also referred to by Indian society as "achoot", or, "untouchable". Dalits have historically been involved in occupations such as working with leather, cleaning sewers, or killing rats and were therefore considered "spiritually impure".

Not so long ago, if a Dalit saw a higher caste walking down the road, they would have to flung themselves to the ground to not contaminate the upper caste (UC) person with their shadow. Violaters would be beaten, often to death, and incredulously, they still are today.

All across India, Dalits -- who comprise at least 25% of the population, or a staggering 400 million people -- are barred from drawing water from the wells of UCs. Dalit children are either denied education or cannot study with UC peers; their villages are separate and hence, they are forbidden from walking through upper caste ones; they cannot eat where UCs eat; they cannot pray where UCs pray and God help them if they marry out of their caste. Their woman and children are physically and sexually abused on a serial scale.

If a person is born as a Dalit, they will die a Dalit, and their children are almost certainly destined to a life with no upward mobility.

While many scholars contend that the caste system became more inflexible under the British, who transformed it into a rigid, more easily governable structure that privileged Brahmans even more, others say this narrative is just an attempt by upper-caste Indian Americans to rewrite history books and erase any mention of Dalit oppression. While the British Raj did have a complex, destructive effect on caste, India's pre-modern history was also most definitely defined by castes.

Riaz Haq said...

#India’s engineers have thrived in #SiliconValley. So has its #caste system. Only 1.5% of Indian immigrants in #UnitedStates are #Dalits or members of the lower-ranked castes, but they face insults and discrimination from upper caste #Hindu colleagues. https://www.washingtonpost.com/technology/2020/10/27/indian-caste-bias-silicon-valley/?tid=ss_tw

Whenever Benjamin Kaila, a database administrator who immigrated from India to the United States in 1999, applies for a job at a U.S. tech company, he prays that there are no other Indians during the in-person interview. That’s because Kaila is a Dalit, or member of the lowest-ranked castes within India’s system of social hierarchy, formerly referred to as “untouchables.”

Silicon Valley’s diversity issues are well documented: It’s still dominated by White and Asian men, and Black and Latino workers remain underrepresented. But for years, as debates about meritocracy raged on, the tech industry’s reliance on Indian engineers allowed another type of discrimination to fester. And Dalit engineers like Kaila say U.S. employers aren’t equipped to address it.

In more than 100 job interviews for contract work over the past 20 years, Kaila said he got only one job offer when another Indian interviewed him in person. When members of the interview panel have been Indian, Kaila says, he has faced personal questions that seem to be used to suss out whether he’s a member of an upper caste, like most of the Indians working in the tech industry.

“They don’t bring up caste, but they can easily identify us,” Kaila says, rattling off all of the ways he can be outed as potentially being Dalit, including the fact that he has darker skin.

The legacy of discrimination from the Indian caste system is rarely discussed as a factor in Silicon Valley’s persistent diversity problems. Decades of tech industry labor practices, such as recruiting candidates from a small cohort of top schools or relying on the H-1B visa system for highly skilled workers, have shaped the racial demographics of its technical workforce. Despite that fact, Dalit engineers and advocates say that tech companies don’t understand caste bias and have not explicitly prohibited caste-based discrimination.

In recent years, however, the Dalit rights movement has grown increasingly global, including advocating for change in corporate America. In June, California’s Department of Fair Employment and Housing filed a landmark suit against Cisco and two of its former engineering managers, both upper-caste Indians, for discriminating against a Dalit engineer.

After the lawsuit was announced, Equality Labs, a nonprofit advocacy group for Dalit rights, received complaints about caste bias from nearly 260 U.S. tech workers in three weeks, reported through the group’s website or in emails to individual staffers. Allegations included caste-based slurs and jokes, bullying, discriminatory hiring practices, bias in peer reviews, and sexual harassment, said executive director Thenmozhi Soundararajan. The highest number of claims were from workers at Facebook (33), followed by Cisco (24), Google (20), Microsoft (18), IBM (17) and Amazon (14). The companies all said they don’t tolerate discrimination.

And a group of 30 female Indian engineers who are members of the Dalit caste and work for Google, Apple, Microsoft, Cisco and other tech companies say they have faced caste bias inside the U.S. tech sector, according to a statement shared exclusively with The Washington Post.

Riaz Haq said...

Caste discrimination: India must disown parts of ancient texts that contradict the Constitution
Just as the West is re-examining its colonial and slave-running past, India should identify treatises that are anachronistic.

https://scroll.in/article/976824/caste-violence-india-must-disown-parts-of-ancient-texts-that-contradict-the-constitution

The ancient Varna system separates the three twice-born (Dvij) groupings – Brahmin, Kshatriya, and Vaishya – from the Shudras who constituted the lowest rung. All ancient authorities concurred that caste was assigned to a person at birth and could not be changed; with each caste was associated a profession; and all castes were arranged in a hierarchy.

All the Dharma sutras and Dharma shastras asserted that the main task of the Shudras was to serve the twice-born (Apastamba Dharma Sutra I.1.1.7-8; Mahabharata, Shanti Parva 60.28). To assure their servility, they were assigned a low ritual status. While a number of sanskaras or rites of passage, from conception to cremation, were prescribed for the high-rankers, they were prohibited for the Shudras who were not permitted to chant Vedic mantras (Manu Smrti X.127).

They could recite the phrase “Namah Shivay” but were not allowed to prefix “Om” to it, notes P V Kane in his History of Dharmasastra.

If a Brahmin committed adultery or rape, merely a fine was imposed on him (Manu Smrti VIII.385). However if a Shudra had sexual intercourse with a Brahmin woman, he was to be executed no matter whether the act was consensual or not (Vasishtha Dharma Shastra 21.1). If a Brahmin reviled a Shudra, he paid a small fine (Manu Smrti VIII. 268) or nothing at all (Gautama Dharma Sutra XII.10). But in the reverse case, a Shudra’s tongue was to be chopped off (Manu Smrti VIII. 270) .

In the case of killing a Dvij by a Dvij , reasonable prayashchit (atonement) was prescribed. For killing a Shudra the prayashchit was the same as for killing a frog, cat, dog, mongoose, or owl.

As the Hathras case demonstrates, the practice of degrading the lower castes has continued into the present.

In 1848, Jotirao Phule was insulted by Brahmins for being a part of a marriage procession notwithstanding the fact that he had been invited to it by his Brahmin friends. In school in the 1890s, Bhimrao Ambedkar was not allowed to sit with the other children inside the classroom. He had to bring a gunny sack from home and sit on it outside. In the 1910s, Meghnad Saha, who would grow up to become an internationally acclaimed astrophysicist, was not permitted by upper-caste fellow residents at the Calcutta’s Government Eden Hindu Hostel to dine at their table and participate in the annual Sarasvati Puja.

The economic exploitation and oppression of Dalits and crimes against Dalit women are facilitated by the low ritual status assigned to them. Just as the West is re-examining its colonial and slave-running past, India should also identify those parts of ancient texts that are now anachronistic. It should treat them as archives and disown them as living heritage.

Riaz Haq said...

How Big #Tech Is Importing #India’s #Caste Legacy to #SiliconValley? Jatav’s #IIT classmates quickly identified him as #Dalit. He’d been educated in Hindi-language schools, and his English was poor. His clothes were shabby. He didn’t have a smartphone. https://www.bloomberg.com/news/features/2021-03-11/how-big-tech-is-importing-india-s-caste-legacy-to-silicon-valley

For all the IITs’ proficiency at training and placing students, though, the coders, programmers, product developers, and engineers fanning out to global tech bring with them the troubled legacy of India’s caste system. On campus, students are surrounded by—and in some cases participate in—a culture of discrimination, bullying, and segregation that targets fellow pupils from India’s Scheduled Castes, also known as Dalits. The IITs officially discourage such harassment, but the prejudice against these students remains quite open.

Caste in India speaks, as race does in America, to centuries of social, cultural, and economic divisions. Unlike in the U.S., though, India has since 1950 had a national system of affirmative action designed to undo the legacy of bias. Among its provisions are ones that help Dalits and other oppressed groups get into and pay for college. For nearly half a century, IIT admissions have been subject to a reservation system that’s still hotly debated on the campuses. In recent years, the schools have opposed attempts to extend affirmative action to faculty hires, arguing it would dilute the quality of the applicant pool and undermine their meritocratic image.

The IITs are notoriously cutthroat, starting with the admissions process. Some 2.2 million people have registered to take the 2021 entrance exam, to vie for roughly 16,000 slots. About 15% of those are allotted to students from the Scheduled Castes (SCs) and another 7.5% to applicants from the Scheduled Tribes (STs), indigenous people who’ve faced marginalization and whose status has also been formalized by the constitution. To fill those slots, universities sometimes offer seats to students with test scores below the cutoff point—though not as far below as is commonly assumed.

Caste-based resentment at the IITs can run high. In one video posted on YouTube in 2018, a student poring over a pile of books is labeled “GEN,” for general pool, while the two students sleeping nearby are identified as “SC” and “ST.” In another post circulated widely among IIT groups last year, a student suggested Covid-19 should also give preferential treatment to the marginalized groups. “My dear Corona,” it said in Hindi. “In every sphere SC/STs get first preference. So if you can, please look into the same.”

Dalit IIT graduates who’ve managed to land jobs in the U.S. say that such attitudes can be found there, too. Last year a Dalit graduate of IIT Bombay filed suit in the U.S. against Cisco Systems Inc. and two of his fellow alums, saying he’d experienced caste-based discrimination at their hands while the three of them were employed at the company. The accompanying publicity prompted a wave of complaints about caste discrimination in American tech—allegations that seemed to blindside the industry.

Amit Jatav, a Dalit from Karauli, in the northwestern state of Rajasthan, remembers catching “the IIT bug” in high school, where he excelled in chemistry, physics, and math. His father, an elementary school teacher, and his mother, a fieldworker, scraped together money from relatives and local lenders to send him for a year of test prep. He took the entrance exam in 2017 and got into IIT Delhi on his first try.

Jatav’s classmates quickly identified him as Dalit. He’d been educated in Hindi-language schools, and his English was poor. His clothes were worn and shabby. He didn’t have a smartphone. In an environment where entrance exam scores are status symbols, Jatav had placed relatively low, marking him as a “quota” student. He heard loud comments saying he was at IIT only because of his “category” instead of “earning it rightfully.” He wasn’t invited to study groups, dinners, or social events.


Riaz Haq said...

California student body demands ban on caste-based discrimination
‘Historic’ resolution passed by student association at California State University calls for adding caste in school’s anti-discrimination policy.

https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2021/4/16/california-student-body-demands-ban-on-caste-based-discrimination

While taking cognisance of incidents of discrimination faced by Dalits on campuses, the student association said the addition of caste within CSU’s anti-discrimination policy would further reiterate the school’s “commitment to diversity, equity, and support for those most systemically marginalised”.

Interestingly, the resolution was authored by a higher caste student and backed by three other students from different racial and religious groups.

“This was a joint inter-caste, inter-faith and multiracial coalitional work,” Manmit Singh Chahal, 20, a California Polytechnic State University student and lead author of the resolution, told Al Jazeera.

-----------

An association representing nearly half a million university students in California, United States has passed a resolution seeking a ban on caste-based discrimination faced mainly by the Dalit students, with rights groups calling the move “historic”.

Formerly referred to as “untouchables”, Dalits lie at the bottom of the complex Hindu caste hierarchy and have faced socio-economic oppression for decades. India officially banned untouchability when it adopted its constitution in 1950, but the practice continues among the South Asian communities, mainly Hindus.

Last week, the Cal State Student Association (CSSA), the country’s largest four-year public university system representing 23 campuses of the California State University (CSU) system, passed the resolution with 22-0 vote in an online meeting, supporting the addition of caste as a protected category against discrimination.

The students’ body directed the University Board of Trustees to add caste in the system’s anti-discrimination policy and provide resources to its staff members to better their understanding of caste.

“Current CSU policy prohibiting discrimination includes many of the identities intertwined with caste but does not protect from caste-based discrimination specifically,” the resolution said.

The resolution cited a survey by Equality Labs which said 25 percent of Dalits reported facing verbal or physical assault based on their caste in the US.


“One in three Dalit students report being discriminated against during their education in the US, two out of three Dalits surveyed reported being treated unfairly at their workplace in the US,” the resolution said, adding that 60 percent of Dalits reported experiencing caste-based derogatory jokes or comments in the country.

“All of these inequalities associated with caste status have become embedded in all of the leading South Asian American institutions and they extend into American mainstream institutions that have significant South Asian immigrant populations,” it said, noting that such discrimination “has long been overlooked by American institutions”.

Riaz Haq said...

#Hindu Sect Is Accused of Using Forced Labor (mainly #Dalit) to Build #NewJersey Temple. #US federal agents raided the massive temple in Robbinsville, N.J., as a lawsuit charged that low-caste men had been lured from #India to work for about $1 an hour. https://www.nytimes.com/2021/05/11/nyregion/nj-hindu-temple-india-baps.html#click=https://t.co/Oz8nDR3CRo


Federal law enforcement agents descended on a massive temple in New Jersey on Tuesday after workers accused a prominent Hindu sect of luring them from India, confining them to the temple grounds and paying them the equivalent of about $1 an hour to perform grueling labor in near servitude.

Lawyers for the workers said in a lawsuit filed Tuesday that Bochasanwasi Akshar Purushottam Swaminarayan Sanstha, a Hindu sect known as BAPS that has close ties to India’s ruling party and has built temples around the world, had exploited possibly hundreds of low-caste men in the yearslong construction project.

The workers, who lived in trailers hidden from view, had been promised jobs helping to build the temple in rural Robbinsville, N.J., with standard work hours and ample time off, according to the lawsuit, a wage claim filed in U.S. District Court in New Jersey. The majority are Dalit, the lowest rung in India’s caste system.

They were brought to the United States on religious visas, or R-1 visas — temporary visas used for clergy and lay religious workers such as missionaries — and presented to the U.S. government as volunteers, according to the claim. They were asked to sign several documents, often in English, and instructed to tell U.S. embassy staffers that they were skilled carvers or decorative painters, the complaint said.

Lawyers for the men, however, said they did manual labor on the site, working nearly 13 hours a day lifting large stones, operating cranes and other heavy machinery, building roads and storm sewers, digging ditches and shoveling snow, all for the equivalent of about $450 per month. They were paid $50 in cash, with the rest deposited in accounts in India, the complaint said.

“I respectfully disagree with the wage claim,” Kanu Patel, the chief executive of BAPS, told The New York Times, while noting he was not in charge of day-to-day operations at the site.

Lenin Joshi, a spokesman for BAPS, also disputed the accusations, saying the men did complicated work connecting stones that had been hand-carved in India. “They have to be fit together like a jigsaw puzzle. In that process, we need specialized artisans,” Mr. Joshi said, saying this work qualified the men for the visas.

“We are naturally shaken by this turn of events and are sure that once the full facts come out, we will be able to provide answers and show that these accusations and allegations are without merit,” Mr. Joshi said.

Riaz Haq said...

#Dalit Scientists Face Barriers in #India's Top #Science Institutes. About 17% of India’s population, Dalits who are officially referred to as “Scheduled Castes” in government records. #caste #Apartheid #Hindutva #Modi #Brahmin https://undark.org/2021/07/26/dalit-scientists-face-barriers-in-indias-top-science-institutes/ via @undarkmag

https://twitter.com/haqsmusings/status/1419710594815434757?s=20

Interviews with young Dalit scientists, along with a growing body of academic work, detail the obstacles Dalits still face on their path through scientific training. Those barriers begin early: Just getting into science and engineering education has been a challenging and uncommon choice for Dalit students in the first place, according to Wankhede, the educational sociologist. “Science education is very expensive. Highly inaccessible,” he said. Students pay higher tuition rates for science courses than in other areas, because they are required to take additional classes to do experiments. And to keep up with their coursework, science students often pay for instruction in pricey private academies called coaching institutes, something many Dalit families cannot afford.

For those Dalits who make it into elite scientific institutes, cultural barriers remind them of the caste divide. During his time at IISc, Thomas found that his lower-caste and Dalit sources identified reflections of upper caste culture throughout the institute. Thomas focused on the Carnatic music concerts that Brahmin students organized. Traditionally, Carnatic music, a type of classical music, has long been the domain of Brahmins in southern India. In one instance at IISc, after the singer finished her song, the Brahmin audience continued singing, showing their familiarity with the art form, writes Thomas. But such events alienated researchers who were not Brahmin. One saw Carnatic music as a “symbol of domination” and said he preferred “folk songs and songs of resistance by Dalit reformers.”

“The mindset remains extraordinarily Brahminical in these elite institutions,” said Abha Sur, a historian of science at Massachusetts Institute of Technology who has written about caste and gender in Indian science. That mindset, she added, tacitly aligns itself with caste hierarchy: “There is implicit devaluation of people that continuously erodes their sense of self.”



---------------------

EVEN AS DALIT researchers like Sonkawade and Kale recount fighting against casteism, many upper-caste researchers describe themselves as caste-blind, or beyond caste — a phenomenon, critics say, that has made it more difficult to address ongoing disparities in top scientific institutions.

In 2012, social anthropologist Renny Thomas joined a chemistry laboratory at the Indian Institute of Sciences to study caste dynamics at the institute, arguably India’s most elite science university. That year, he interviewed 80 researchers, and later observed a cultural festival celebrated at the institute. Again and again, Thomas found, Brahmin researchers denied that caste existed in their lives or on the campus. “Caste!?? Oh, Please! I have nothing to do with caste,” one molecular biologist from a Brahmin family told Thomas, according to a paper he published last year. “It never registered in my mind.”

Such claims aren’t limited to academic science. In a 2013 paper, University of Delhi sociologist Satish Deshpande argued that for many upper-caste Indians, caste is “a ladder that can now be safely kicked away,” but only after they convert those high-caste privileges into other forms of status, such as “property, higher educational credentials, and strongholds in lucrative professions.” Many Dalits, Kale said, would also like to forget their caste. But upper-caste people, he added, “don’t let us.”

Riaz Haq said...

Unmasking Hindutva - Frontline
Inbox

https://frontline.thehindu.com/the-nation/unmasking-hindutva-looking-back-on-dismantling-global-hindutva-online-conference-september-2021/article36628499.ece



Benign Brahminism
Considering that caste is an intrinsic part of the Hindutva world view, a session was dedicated to the theme. Gajendran Ayyathurai presented his paper on “Systematic Blindnesses: Hindutva, Benign Brahminism and the Brick Wall of Caste/Hindu Identity”. In his argument, “benign Brahminism stands for how Brahmin-male claims of Hindu identity, Hindu culture and Hinduism have come to be legitimised in the Indian and Western academy’s theories, institutions and practices that superimpose and mask the latent and manifest forms of caste/casteism”. Bhanwar Meghwanshi, who quit the RSS as he became disgusted with its casteism, explained in Hindi that “Hindutva is not a religion or faith but is a communal political ideology that is based on brahminical Hinduism that wants to turn India from a secular nation into a Hindu rashtra”. Basing his argument on his own experience, Meghwanshi asserted that “the lower castes do not have any role in determining the strategies or politics of the RSS, instead, they are exploited and weaponised against religious minorities”. In her presentation, the philosopher Meena Dhanda said it was possible for caste “to be included in the legal definition of race under the [U.K.’s] Equality Act of 2010”.

Also read: Hindu right-wing organisations in the U.S avail themselves of low-interest loans offered by the SBA

In a session on “Gender and Sexual Politics of Hindutva”, the film-maker Leena Manimekalai showed a clip from her incomplete film Rape Nation, which partially looks at the stories of survivors of sexual violence during the communal carnages that took place in Gujarat and Muzaffarnagar in 2002 and 2013 respectively. Arguing that sexual violence is at the core of Hindutva, Leena Manimekalai said: “Hindutva has redefined nationalism as a genocidal impulse to rape and murder non-Hindu women. It is a celebration of toxic masculinity.”

The transgender studies scholar Aniruddha Dutta showed in his presentation how the BJP’s rise had even affected the Hijra tradition where there has been a transformation from a “syncretic Indo-Islamic tradition to a more orthodox version of Hinduism”. The Dalit feminist P. Sivakami critiqued Hindutva as having “no vision for Hindu women except that it intends to prepare and reorient them against their imaginary enemy, i.e., the Muslim man, thus diverting her from her real struggles”. The feminist scholar Akanksha Mehta segued from this presentation, stating that “notions of gender and sexuality rooted in caste and race are crucial to the Hindutva project” even as she compared the analogous role of women among savarna (caste) Hindus and Zionists.

Hindutva and its relationship to nationalism was the theme of the session titled “Contours of the Nation”. The focus was on the operation of Hindutva in Kashmir, the north-eastern region and the Adivasi-inhabited areas of central India. The anthropologist Mohamad Junaid examined the “spectacle of domination” of the Hindutva state, characterising it as “primarily an anti-Muslim state”. He also spoke about the long history of Hindutva in Kashmir, tracing it to the land reforms of the 1950s, which were a challenge to “Hindu sovereignty”.

Riaz Haq said...

The Casteism I See in America - The Atlantic


https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2021/11/india-america-caste/620583/


A 2016 study by Equality Labs, an American civil-rights organization focused on caste, found that 41 percent of South-Asian Americans who identify as lower-caste reported facing caste discrimination in U.S. schools and universities, compared with 3 percent of upper-caste respondents. The survey indicated that 67 percent of lower-caste respondents said they had suffered caste discrimination in the workplace, versus 1 percent of upper-caste individuals. (The survey of more than 1,500 people focused on Hindus. Though upper castes hold more power, caste discrimination is more complex than simply being meted out by upper castes against lower castes, Thenmozhi Soundararajan, Equality Labs’s executive director, told me. “In fact,” she said, “it is all castes against all castes.”)

More recently, a September 2020 study by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace found that first-generation Indian immigrants to the U.S. were significantly more likely than U.S.-born respondents to espouse a caste identity. The overwhelming majority of Hindus with a caste identity—more than eight in 10—self-identified as upper-caste, and first-generation immigrants in particular tended to self-segregate, making their communities more and more homogenous in terms of religion and caste. Respondents to the Carnegie survey had varying responses to experiencing different forms of discrimination, depending on whether the discrimination occurred in the U.S. or in India, and who suffered from it. Overall, 73 percent viewed white supremacy as a threat to American democracy, but only 53 percent saw Hindu majoritarianism as a threat to Indian democracy. On the question of affirmative action in university admissions, the data suggest higher levels of support for the policy in the U.S. (54 percent) than India (47 percent).



The anguish caused by casteism is much like that caused by racism, resulting not simply from hateful slurs but from an expansive and intimate system woven into behavior, cultural practice, and economics. On a granular level, upper-caste Hindus do not share utensils or drinking water with those of lower castes, and lighter skin tones are preferred to darker ones. On a systemic level, society self-segregates, with upper castes often congregating in the same neighborhoods; the achievements of upper-caste Hindus come at least partially at the expense of lower-caste communities.

The system dictates that every child inherits their family’s caste, which is indicated by a person’s middle and last name—the name of one’s village and the profession of the family. Caste determines social status and spiritual purity and defines what jobs a person can do and whom they can marry. As outlined in Hindu mythology, men were created unequal by Lord Brahma, the Creator, supreme among the triad of Hindu gods that also includes Lord Shiva, the Destroyer, and Lord Vishnu, the Preserver. From Brahma’s head came the Brahmans—priests and intellectuals. From his arms came kings and warriors; from his thighs, white-collar workers; and from his feet, blue-collar workers. A fifth group, once described as untouchables, was kept outside of the caste system entirely, its place in the social order to clean toilets, sweep streets, and dispose of dead bodies. (The word pariahcomes from the Tamil language and refers to one of the most persecuted and lowest of caste groups, the paṛaiyar, in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu. Pariah is a global standard for social outcasts, but Tamil-Brahman families, including mine, use it as a term of abuse, and it has come to mean “someone who is despised.”)



The top three groups—Brahmans, warriors, and traders—are the upper castes and can intermarry and dine with one another.

Riaz Haq said...

#University of #California #Davis quietly added #caste to its anti-discrimination policy. “The quiet pain and the suffering students face because of caste discrimination will no longer be the case,” said a victim. Will it cause others to do the same? https://www.sfchronicle.com/california/article/UC-Davis-quietly-added-caste-to-its-16626845.php?utm_campaign=CMS%20Sharing%20Tools%20(Premium)&utm_source=t.co&utm_medium=referral



For J. Kaur, a UC Davis senior of Indian descent, it started with insulting memes casually dropped into her group chats. For one of her schoolmates, it was overhearing South Asian students ask each other what caste they belonged to before picking roommates.

The experiences inspired Kaur and her schoolmate to spend months working behind the scenes with other students to get their university to officially recognize caste — a millennia-old concept that assigns people their social statuses at birth — as a source of discrimination on the Northern California campus.

That effort culminated in September, when UC Davis became potentially the first public institution in the U.S. to add caste to its anti-discrimination policy. The move places the university on the ground floor of a rising movement to confront caste discrimination, a lesser-known form of oppression present in American society, and one that is largely imported from South Asia.

Those who speak out against it risk various forms of retaliation, both for themselves and relatives back home.

“The quiet pain and the suffering students face because of caste discrimination will no longer be the case,” said Kaur’s schoolmate, who is of Indian descent and graduated from UC Davis this summer. “That is what’s defining this moment.”

(In accordance with Chronicle policy, the student was granted anonymity because of credible fears of harassment for belonging to a student campaign to abolish caste identity.)

Riaz Haq said...

Cal State Adds Caste to Anti Discrimination Policy: Dalit Group Happy; Several Faculty Say Unfair

https://www.indiawest.com/news/cal-state-adds-caste-to-anti-discrimination-policy-dalit-group-happy-several-faculty-say-unfair/article_b3e72010-7bb1-11ec-b2c5-f36f36c37b7a.html


The California State University is a public university system with 23 campuses and eight off-campus centers. CSU is the largest four-year public university system in the United States.

Equality Lab’s executive director Thenmozhi Soundararajan, in a press release called CSU’s decision a historic win, and credited “the tireless efforts of the student-led interfaith and inter-caste initiative.” Noting that “the movement for caste equity in the United States is growing exponentially as caste-oppressed Americans and allies bravely organize for our rights,” she added her organization looks forward “to working with CSU campuses to help implement this historic win.”

In the press release, Manmit Singh, a student at San Francisco State University said the victory “has shown the power of an interfaith, inter-caste, and multiracial coalition.”

Meanwhile, Dr. Praveen Sinha, Professor of Accountancy at California State University, Long Beach noted, “The addition of caste is a misguided overreach given the existence of comprehensive policies which already protect against various forms of discrimination.” He said, “We cannot but oppose the unique risk that CSU’s move puts on us as they add a category that is only associated with people of Indian descent, such as myself and thousands of other faculty and students in the CSU system. It is going to create divisions where they simply do not exist.”

“As a faculty member of Indian origin, I am well aware that discrimination is a daily reality for many students of varied backgrounds, and there is a robust mechanism of addressing all such complaints under existing laws and CSU policy,” said Dr. Sunil Kumar, Professor of Engineering at San Diego State University. “But this policy change has been made in the absence of any scientifically reliable evidence or data. Rather than redressing discrimination, it will actually cause discrimination by unconstitutionally singling out and targeting Hindu faculty of Indian and South Asian descent as members of a suspect class because of deeply entrenched, false stereotypes about Indians, Hindus, and caste. We are disappointed that the CSU faculty association championed this move without holding discussions with the concerned faculty even when three professors had alerted them way back in May 2021. In their meeting with these three professors on January 14 this year, some of the CFA leaders admitted that they did not understand the complexity of caste and that they dropped the ball.”

The faculty members expressed deep concern that, as written, the caste policy would specifically deny Hindu, Indian and South Asian faculty equal protection and due process.

There are more than 600 Cal State faculty of Indian and South Asian origin who would be rendered vulnerable should the collective bargaining agreement be passed as currently written noted the Hindu American Foundation in a press release. Lawyers at HAF, also sent a letter to CSU Board of Trustees, the CSU Office of General Counsel, CSU Chancellor, and president of the California Faculty Association, on behalf of CSU faculty.

The faculty petition points to comprehensive survey by the Carnegie Endowment, “Social Realities of Indian Americans: Results From the 2020 Indian American Attitudes Survey,” which found that while discrimination on the basis of color is common for Indian Americans, caste discrimination is exceedingly rare.

Riaz Haq said...

Dr. Audrey Truschke
@AudreyTruschke
Tanuja Gupta's resignation letter from Google. Things I learned:

Google employees have experienced caste-based discrimination.

Google execs tried to censor internal employee discussions on caste.

The retaliation for pursuing equity was intense.

https://s3.documentcloud.org/documents/22050236/tanuja-gupta-goodbye-letter.pdf

https://twitter.com/AudreyTruschke/status/1533208406135382018?s=20&t=vgycjYBtjYbCnu7WrzjTwg

Riaz Haq said...

Employees of Google during an internal monthly meeting on Thursday, 2 June, questioned executives why the anti-bias talk by Thenmozhi Soundararajan was cancelled.

https://www.thequint.com/news/world/google-employees-question-cancel-talk-dalit-activist-thenmozhi-soundararajan-caste-social-media

The company’s top diversity officer responded that it was cancelled because it “was actually pulling employees apart,” reported Insider, based on an audio recording of the meeting that was leaked.

This news comes just days after Tanuja Gupta, a senior manager at Google, resigned from the company on 1 June, to express solidarity with a Dalit rights activist who was not allowed to give a presentation on caste.

In April, Thenmozhi Soundararajan, the founder of Equality Labs, a Dalit civil rights organisation, was scheduled to give a lecture to employees of Google News during Dalit History Month. However, it was called off after several Google employees called Soundararajan "Hindu-phobic" and "anti-Hindu" in emails to company heads.

During the all-member meeting on Thursday, the question of whether Google wanted to alter more diversity initiatives to “not cause others discomfort,” in light of the anti-bias event’s cancelation was raised. Employees had reportedly asked how they can discuss discrimination at Google considering the retaliation Gupta faced.

"Retaliation is a normalised Google practice to handle internal criticism, and women take the hit," Gupta had written in her resignation email.

Google’s chief diversity officer, Melonie Parker, responded that the company was “deeply opposed” to caste discrimination, and that “it has no place here or anywhere,” Insider reported.

“And in fact, a large group of employees felt that they were being vilified. And this resulted in a lot of internal concern, heated threads, as well as escalations," he said.

Meanwhile, Alphabet Workers Union (AWU), also informally referred to as the Google Union, has expressed solidarity with Soundararajan and Gupta.


They demanded that Soundararajan's talk must be reinstated at Google News and the company should have a continued commitment to bring in Dalit and caste-oppressed speakers to address caste discrimination. Google must immediately add caste to all of its HR policies in all locations, the tweet read.

Sundar Pichai, Google's chief operating officer (CEO), said that the company should take into account “all types of issues people face, and we should strive to make a difference in all of the areas, including caste discrimination” as part of its DEI work, quoted Insider.

However, Soundararajan who had appealed to Pichai to allow her to give her presentation, has still not received a response.

"He is Indian and he is Brahmin and he grew up in Tamil Nadu. There is no way you grow up in Tamil Nadu and not know about caste because of how caste politics shaped the conversation," said Soundararajan, who is also a Dalit, reported The Washington Post.

“Even a consultant like myself is facing casteist smears in the company you lead. Imagine what a caste-oppressed worker at Google would face if they dared to come forward,” her statement read.

Several prominent personalities and people took to social media to slam the "blatant casteism" at the workspace.


Some Netizens Claim She Has 'Hatred for Everything Hindu'
Meanwhile, several other netizens have hailed the decision stating that she was "anti-Brahmin" and was "bent on creating caste diversion."


HinduPACT, a Hindu Policy Research and Advocacy Collective USA, accused Soundararajan of peddling "a vicious and well-resourced influence operation."

"What drives their campaign is a shared hatred for everything HINDU and a well curated agenda to defame and de-platform any representation of the Indian American diaspora or Hindu Americans in the future of America. Sinister and Goebelessian," the tweet read.

Riaz Haq said...

Tanuja Gupta's resignation letter from Google. Things I learned:


https://s3.documentcloud.org/documents/22050236/tanuja-gupta-goodbye-letter.pdf


When workplace policies collide with the realities of DEI
And how Google sacrifices women to keep order
My career at Google has come to an end because of this company’s willful ignorance of caste
discrimination, the double standards of its DEI programming, the weaponization of
confidentiality to avoid accountability, and a normalized practice of retaliation against those who
speak out.
If we never had a chance to meet in the halls of Google during my 11 years at the company,
allow me to introduce myself. My name is Tanuja Gupta. I was born and raised in Texas after my
parents immigrated to the United States in the 1980s from India. By birth, I am half Hindu, half
Jain, though I most closely identify as a Jain. After high school, I attended college at New York
University where I graduated in three years and made the Dean’s List every semester. I worked
full time through my last two years of college, and started my career in tech at the age of 20. I
have since worked in technology for another 20 years as an engineering program manager.
During my cumulative 11 years at Google, I have been promoted 3 times. When I was an
individual contributor (ie not a people manager), I co-organized the Google Walkout to protest
how sexual harassment and discrimination were handled at Google, going on to successfully
advocate for ending forced arbitration within our company. Outside of Google, I have continued
to advocate for both the Forced Arbitration Injustice Repeal Act and the recently passed HR
4445 to end forced arbitration for sexual misconduct in the workplace.
In April 2019, after Google ended its policy of forcing arbitration, I became a people manager for
our Google News team. In 2020, I received that third promotion to “Level 7” and to date, have
built a team of 17 reports. During my last performance review, which ended May 2nd, I received
a rating of ‘Strongly Exceeds Expectations.’ I sit 4 degrees of separation from our CEO (me →
Sr. Director → VP → SVP → CEO). Aside from being entrusted to lead several key initiatives for
our 700+ cross-functional News team, I also founded a diversity, equity and inclusion model that
became the blueprint for other teams at Google. After two years of building this program, I was
co-awarded Google’s Search Superlative Award in 2021 for the impact of my work and this DEI
model.
I’m sharing all of this because everything you read below will come down to credibility -
mine, the banned speaker’s, Google’s and my fellow Googlers’. It’s also a reminder that
no amount of work success, number of successfully executed projects, or accrued
credibility makes you any less disposable if you challenge the structures of power.
One element of this DEI program model I mentioned is to run a speaker series, where experts
from different organizations come speak to Googlers to educate them on matters of equity in
different industries and countries. Since April is Dalit History Month, we wanted to shed light on
caste discrimination. For those who are not familiar with this topic, the caste system is a
millennia-old system of exclusion originating in South Asia. It impacts over 1.9B South Asians
globally today, including 5.4M South Asians here in America. Dalits (the most oppressed in the
Caste system) have been historically subjected to violence and denied access to education,
healthcare, land ownership, and other social capital. Dalits are considered ‘untouchable’
because they are considered ‘polluted’. And today, even though this sort of discrimination runs
afoul of federal and local laws, Dalits, including those who have migrated to other countries like
the United States, continue to suffer discrimination in private and public spaces —including tech

Riaz Haq said...

Tanuja Gupta's resignation letter from Google. Things I learned:


https://s3.documentcloud.org/documents/22050236/tanuja-gupta-goodbye-letter.pdf



I’m sharing all of this because everything you read below will come down to credibility -
mine, the banned speaker’s, Google’s and my fellow Googlers’. It’s also a reminder that
no amount of work success, number of successfully executed projects, or accrued
credibility makes you any less disposable if you challenge the structures of power.
One element of this DEI program model I mentioned is to run a speaker series, where experts
from different organizations come speak to Googlers to educate them on matters of equity in
different industries and countries. Since April is Dalit History Month, we wanted to shed light on
caste discrimination. For those who are not familiar with this topic, the caste system is a
millennia-old system of exclusion originating in South Asia. It impacts over 1.9B South Asians
globally today, including 5.4M South Asians here in America. Dalits (the most oppressed in the
Caste system) have been historically subjected to violence and denied access to education,
healthcare, land ownership, and other social capital. Dalits are considered ‘untouchable’
because they are considered ‘polluted’. And today, even though this sort of discrimination runs
afoul of federal and local laws, Dalits, including those who have migrated to other countries like
the United States, continue to suffer discrimination in private and public spaces —including tech
workspaces, specifically Google.
In September 2021, two Google employees approached me confidentially about the caste
discrimination they had witnessed at the company. They shared the struggles they faced simply
having a talk at Google about caste discrimination. I agreed to host this talk as part of our News
DEI program and connected to them my direct report to execute. The News DEI Speaker Series
was all set to have a talk about caste equity on April 18th with Thenmozhi Soundararajan, the
co-founder of Dalit History Month and Equality Labs. Thenmozhi Soundarajan is a leading
expert in caste equity and a Dalit herself. Her work led to the first Congressional hearing on
caste discrimination in America, and her organization Equality Labs has been essential to the
Cisco caste discrimination lawsuit. Caste discrimination follows South Asians wherever they go.
So considering how matters of caste equity are covered in the news (or not) AND given the
huge South Asian population in tech, my News team found this topic relevant and timely for our
speaker series.
However, starting two days prior to the talk, a series of actions, reactions (and inaction) started,
leading to what I believe are retaliatory measures towards me and discrimination towards South
Asian caste-oppressed employees:
● Wed, Apr 13 - Fri, Apr 15
○ A handful of Google employees send emails to myself and/or members of
Google product & HR leadership at different levels with concerns, accusations
and disinformation about the talk and speaker.
○ Someone doxxes my direct report by posting her email about the talk on Twitter.
○ I meet with my VP and Chief Diversity Officer, who collectively decide to
postpone the talk and perform due diligence on the speaker. They also ask me to
debunk the misinformation in the emails from a handful of Googlers.
○ They promise to hold the talk once the due diligence is complete.
● Mon, Apr 18
○ Meanwhile, I host a talk with Thenmozhi off-corp so it’s open to the public - watch
here on YouTube.
○ I and several other Googlers donate to the speaker’s organization, Equality Labs,
via our internal gift match platform since it is an approved organization (click
here).
● Two weeks pass with canceled HR meetings and no response on the information I
have provided on the speaker.

Riaz Haq said...

Tanuja Gupta's resignation letter from Google. Things I learned:


https://s3.documentcloud.org/documents/22050236/tanuja-gupta-goodbye-letter.pdf



Thu, Apr 28
○ I post this email describing what’s happened to groups to reach ~8K Googlers,
launch an internal site at go/caste-equity and invite Googlers to sign a petition if
they believe the talk should be reinstated.
○ I host another talk with Thenmozhi off-corp, with a much bigger audience this
time - watch here on YouTube.
○ HR asks my manager to submit a Talks@Google form as another form of vetting
the speaker - to date, I have never heard back on the results.
○ Employee Relations (HR) also reaches out to me, which I assume is to help with
my direct report’s doxxing case.
● Fri, Apr 29
○ 400+ Googlers sign the petition, and multiple tech companies and activists send
us endorsement letters of Thenmozhi Soundarajan (which are forwarded to our
Chief Diversity officer and CEO). I post this email.
○ I meet with Employee Relations, where I realize I am now under investigation
because Google employee(s) escalated concerns about me.
○ Moderators remove my emails from the industryinfo@ and pmtpm-discuss@
forums.
○ At this point, I’m tracking three separate investigations with different parties (i)
Security, to investigate who doxxed my direct report, (ii) ERG PeopleOps, to
investigate the proposed speaker’s credentials and vet the complaints of the
Googlers and (iii) Risk Compliance, to investigate me based on concerns by
people I do not know.
● Two weeks pass, Dalit History Month ends and I hear nothing on the HR
investigation nor the Talks@google submission. Meanwhile, my email spawns new
threads that (a) deny caste discrimination (ex1, ex2); (b) label caste-oppressed people
as less educated (ex); (c) contain Hindu-phobic allegations (ex); (d) make claims of
caste equity reverse discrimination (ex); and (e) ask for my petition to be a survey, as if
we should only hear about this topic from this speaker if the dominant majority group
agreed (ex). At some point, the Moma search for [Equality Labs] also has a top
suggested result with content from a known disinformation site. Another 200+ Googlers
sign the petition to reinstate the talk with Thenmozhi.
● Thu, May 12
○ HR notifies me that I have violated the People Manager Code of Conduct and
that I will receive a written warning letter later in the day. The investigator also
confirms that if I was an individual contributor, this investigation would not be
happening. They also ask me to take down several parts of the go/caste-equity
site, including any reference to HR actions and specific statements by three
Googlers - who will all be contacted separately as well. (One of the Googlers
confirmed HR never contacted him.)
○ Separately, the Head of Product Inclusion & Equity reaches out to me to learn
more about caste as it relates to our products.
○ Two hours later, in a meeting with my VP (pronouns: they/them), I find out that
the person who is responsible for deciding whether or not we will have a talk on
caste equity (and whether or not Soundarajan can be the speaker) has been my
VP all along. And that they will conduct a listening session with the Hindu
Employee Resource Group to help them make a decision. They also confirm the
contents of my warning letter: my performance rating in the next cycle will
automatically be lowered, affecting my compensation, and I will be ineligible for
promotion for at least the next promotion cycle.
● Mon, May 16
○ I meet 1:1 with our VP, who says we should have the conversation on caste
equity, but with a different speaker. I ask them to meet with the original speaker,
Thenmozhi Soundararajan, to at least hear from her directly. My VP agrees.
Right after, we meet with my direct report to break this news and make a plan to
move forward where the DEI HR team will help us source and vet speakers.
Read the full TRANSCRIPT here, PII redacted.
○ I meet 1:1 with my Manager and have a conversation which cinches my letter of
dispute, as you see a week later.

Riaz Haq said...

Tanuja Gupta's resignation letter from Google. Things I learned:


https://s3.documentcloud.org/documents/22050236/tanuja-gupta-goodbye-letter.pdf



Mon, May 16
○ I meet 1:1 with our VP, who says we should have the conversation on caste
equity, but with a different speaker. I ask them to meet with the original speaker,
Thenmozhi Soundararajan, to at least hear from her directly. My VP agrees.
Right after, we meet with my direct report to break this news and make a plan to
move forward where the DEI HR team will help us source and vet speakers.
Read the full TRANSCRIPT here, PII redacted.
○ I meet 1:1 with my Manager and have a conversation which cinches my letter of
dispute, as you see a week later.
● Tue, May 17
○ My VP, Thenmozhi and I meet for 40 minutes, where my VP asserts this is not a
legal discrimination issue and acknowledges Thenmozhi is being held to a
different standard than all other speakers. Read the full TRANSCRIPT here, PII
redacted. (If you read only one transcript, let it be this one.)
● Thu, May 19
○ After multiple pings, I recap to my VP, manager and HR that we have sourced
multiple alternative speakers, but have been explicitly told not to reach out to
them by HR.
○ We also still have no understanding of the vetting process, or what was
objectionable about Thenmozhi in the first place.
○ I do not hear back from HR, and still haven’t to this day.
○ I confide in a colleague who says to me “they’ve been waiting for an opportunity
to do this to you for years”. This triggers my memory and I remember the report
on Project Vivian as reported in VICE, where the end forced arbitration group that
I founded is discussed explicitly. And I am the last Walkout organizer at the
company. It suddenly occurs to me that the punishment I have received may
have nothing to do with this episode, but that Google may have finally just found
that opportunity to fire me without firing me.
● Mon, May 23
○ 11:15am EST - I dispute the warning letter (read 1,2,3,4, PII redacted) - to date, I
have received no response with the requested information / clarifications from
HR nor my VP.
○ 11:20am EST - I formally request a legal investigation for retaliation and
workplace safety (read 1,2,3,4,5, PII redacted).
○ 6:00pm EST - I resign from Google. My manager states, “I had a feeling the
second I read the letter … I think about everything I could have done and should
have done. I guess I don’t see a full version of this story where I could have
made you and Google happy.”
● Tue, May 24
○ My VP reaches out for a chat, asking if I have plans, offering their personal email,
willing to make introductions to people in government and tech. When I ask,
“would you stay if you had to sign that letter?”, they reply “I don’t know.”
○ They also say that they will separate the DEI talk from the Product Inclusion talk,
so it will not go through the HR DEI processes.
○ My VP confirms, “I can run my product and engineering business however I like
without HR involvement. The problem with this whole thing, sadly, has been the
word ‘DEI’ in the speaker series, and then basically that gets into a world in
which multiple groups feel like they have purview.”
○ Lawyers from Alphabet - not HR from Google - reach out to start the investigation
of retaliation. They ask for my lawyer’s contact information.
● Wed, May 25

Riaz Haq said...

Dr. Audrey Truschke
@AudreyTruschke
Upper-caste Hindu nationalists on this interview right now: “Googlers didn’t mind talking about caste, they just didn’t want a Dalit-led group talking about caste.”

What sheer, unadulterated bigotry.

https://twitter.com/AudreyTruschke/status/1558221459591467009?s=20&t=ZqR83-WD7rVlj-Ys2A82fA

https://www.newyorker.com/news/q-and-a/googles-caste-bias-problem

Google’s Caste-Bias Problem
A talk about bigotry was cancelled amid accusations of reverse discrimination. Whom was the company trying to protect?

By Isaac Chotiner

https://www.newyorker.com/news/q-and-a/googles-caste-bias-problem

ntil recently, Tanuja Gupta was a senior manager at Google News. She was involved in various forms of activism at the company, and, in April, she invited Thenmozhi Soundararajan, the founder of Equality Labs, a nonprofit, to speak about the subject of caste discrimination. (India’s caste system, which has existed in some form for centuries, separates Hindus into broadly hierarchical groups that often correspond to historical religious practice and familial professions. Those at the bottom of the system are called Dalits—formerly known as “untouchables”—and still face extreme discrimination in India.)

Numerous employees within the company expressed the view that any talk on caste discrimination was offensive to them as Hindus, and made them feel unsafe. The talk was eventually cancelled, and Gupta, who had been at Google for more than ten years, resigned amid an investigation into her own behavior. (A spokesperson for Google said that it has “a very clear, publicly shared policy against retaliation and discrimination in our workplace.”)

I recently spoke with Gupta. Her lawyer, Cara Greene, joined the conversation, which we agreed would stay on the record. During the interview, which has been edited for length and clarity, we discussed how Silicon Valley deals with issues of caste discrimination, why Google employees felt “threatened” by the talk that Gupta had scheduled, and the circumstances behind her departure from the company.

Why did you want to join Google, and what did you feel about the place when you did?

tanuja gupta: I started working at Google in 2011. I had been working as a program manager in engineering and software for about a decade, but Google was top of the top. Of course you want a career at a great company. That was a product that I used day in and day out. It was a great opportunity.

When did you decide that you wanted to get involved with activism inside Google?

t.g.: Probably with the Google walkout in 2018. It was the height of the MeToo movement. The Kavanaugh confirmation was happening. The news about Andy Rubin had broken—the ninety-million-dollar payout that he received despite allegations of sexual misconduct. And so I think there was a little bit of a breaking point within the company, and in myself, the experiences that I’d had in tech. That’s when it started.

As we’ve all grown during the past couple of years, diversity, equity, and inclusion [D.E.I.] has become more and more recognized as not just a moral nicety but actually as a business imperative, that companies have a competency around these matters, especially in products. For the past three years, I was working on Google News products. To be able to cover news topics about matters of race, gender equity, caste, things like that, you actually have to be able to understand matters of diversity and inclusion. And so it went from being a separate, side thing to integral to being good at your core job.

Riaz Haq said...

What got you interested in the subject of caste discrimination?

t.g.: There was my own obvious background. My parents immigrated from India in the early nineteen-eighties. I was certainly familiar with the topic. In September, 2021, two employees approached me. I hosted D.E.I. office hours every week where people could come in and talk about these topics, confidentially, and multiple Google employees came into my office and reported that they had faced discrimination when trying to talk about matters of caste in the workplace. There was already a public condemnation of caste discrimination at Google from the Alphabet workers’ union. They had put out a press statement when the Cisco case broke. There were reports from at least twenty Google employees as well. [In June, 2020, California sued Cisco and two of its managers for engaging in caste discrimination. Afterward, Equality Labs received complaints from more than two hundred and fifty tech workers, including twenty Google employees.]

What made it really relevant to Google News was that, in 2022, there was a huge election in India where matters of caste equity were integral. Given the news-product footprint in India, caste is absolutely something we need to talk about, and we need to make sure that our products are thinking about folks from different caste backgrounds.

You’re talking about the election earlier this year, in Uttar Pradesh, which is the most populous state in India, with more than two hundred million people, where a very right-wing politician, aligned with the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party, was reëlected as chief minister. [The B.J.P, led by India’s Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, is known for its defenses of Hindu identity and religious chauvinism; its base of support has typically come from privileged-caste Hindus, although under Modi the Party has made inroads among voters from a variety of castes.] Are you saying that to understand these issues of caste was important for your work, and not just for the inner harmony of your workplace?

t.g.: That’s right. It was a perfect storm of all these things—colleagues coming to me as well as our products being affected by it.

And were these colleagues coming to you in India or in the United States or both?

t.g.: Both.

Were these people who were experiencing discrimination firsthand, or was it more people who wanted to talk about this issue and why it’s important?

t.g.: The first conversations I had were with people who felt that they were being discriminated against for even raising this topic. I think that’s a form of discrimination in and of itself—where you can talk about some matters related to D.E.I. but not others. Then you had some other folks who faced it directly because of being caste oppressed.

When you say that people felt that they could not bring up caste discrimination, was this in the context of stories about what was happening in Uttar Pradesh, or things within the workplace, or both?

t.g.: Within the workplace.

Who was the discrimination coming from, and how did it manifest?

t.g.: I can share what I’ve seen and what’s been shared with me. The first thing is denial. Saying this doesn’t even exist. That is a form of discrimination. There were messages on e-mail threads that talked about how this isn’t a problem here. If you replace the denial of caste discrimination with the denial of the Holocaust or something like that, it instantly clicks where other people start to realize, “Oh, something’s wrong if people are denying this.” The second thing—and I think the Cisco case is probably the most publicly known example—is that, within a team, when you’ve got people who are caste privileged and caste oppressed, the people who are caste oppressed start to be given inferior assignments, get treated differently, left out of meetings, which are certainly things that I heard from Google employees within the company. [The Google spokesperson said that caste discrimination has “no place in our workplace and it’s prohibited in our policies.”]

Riaz Haq said...

Another thing is these coded conversations. If you’re not attuned to what the issue is, you won’t even realize what’s happening. Asking things like “What’s your last name? I’m not familiar with it.” Then, when the manager hears that last name, they’re, like, “Oh, so you’re from this caste—no wonder you have these leadership skills.” Things like that. And somebody else in the room is, like, “What the hell?” It’s those different types of experiences that I’ve seen or that have been shared with me that show that caste discrimination is happening in the workplace.

Are you saying that in the United States this discrimination is coming from other Indian Americans? This is not to say that white people or Hispanic people or Black people or whoever else can’t perpetrate caste discrimination. But I think a lot of people who aren’t aware of the caste system or do not recognize someone’s name or what that might suggest about their caste would say, “How could I discriminate about caste? I don’t even know anything about caste.”

t.g.: I don’t fault people for not knowing the intricacies of caste discrimination. I fault people for not wanting to learn about it. Willfully not wanting to learn more about certain topics when you hear that people are being discriminated against, choosing not to do anything about it, that is a problem. And that’s what was happening. People can absolutely discriminate based on caste by essentially denying it and not wanting to learn about it.

In other words, there is first-order discrimination by Indian Americans toward people from underprivileged castes. And then when this gets kicked up the chain of command or gets commented upon, people of varying backgrounds practice their own form of discrimination by not looking into it or not wanting to hear about it.

t.g.: That’s exactly right.

So, you are hearing these stories. What happens next?

t.g.: We asked a speaker to come talk to our news team about matters of caste and discrimination, and specifically caste representation in the newsroom. Two days before the talk, which is part of a larger D.E.I. programming series that I ran for the team, a number of e-mails got sent to my V.P., to the head of H.R., to our chief diversity officer, to our C.E.O. directly, claiming that the talk was creating a hostile workplace, that people felt unsafe, that the speaker was not qualified to speak on the topic, and several other allegations. The talk got postponed. That was the term that was used.

Who was sending these e-mails?

t.g.: They were all internal Google employees. That’s about as much as I can say. Google essentially decides to turn down the temperature by postponing the talk and conduct further due diligence on this speaker. Bear in mind that, just five months earlier, this speaker had spoken at Cloud Next, which is a huge event for Google Cloud.

Then nothing happened for two weeks. There was no follow-up on the due diligence, or what made the speaker objectionable in the first place. I told Google that they’d been given some misinformation, and explained why it wasn’t true, and got nothing. At that point, Dalit History Month, which is in April, was about to end.

Riaz Haq said...

Do you want to say what Dalit means?

t.g.: Dalit is a term that means “broken,” or “untouchable.” It refers to folks at the bottom or outside of the caste system who have been relegated to perform the dirtiest jobs because they are considered spiritually polluted. It comes from a millennia-old system that has religious roots. There has been a cultural and societal impact on millions of South Asians in America, and across the globe, who have faced tremendous setbacks, particularly gender-based violence, but also when it comes to owning land or homes, or finding economic and educational opportunities.

The reason it was important to do the event in April is that the speaker is the founder of Dalit History Month. We were at a point where nothing was being done; it was just silence. At that point, there is no difference between a postponement and a cancellation. In April, we started a petition internally to raise awareness about the lack of action. We got four hundred signatures overnight, and a lot of people actually started to learn about caste, which was the whole point of this talk in the first place. H.R. then informed me that I had violated Google’s standards of conduct, claiming that I publicly criticized Googlers for raising concerns to leadership about the harm and risk they felt from the talk. I should have also mentioned that, during the process of these escalations and concerns, my direct employee got doxed. Her personal information was put on Twitter. The content of the tweet was her e-mail invitation to the Google News team to join this talk on caste equity.

Then I got put under investigation. So I’ve got three things happening at once. I’m trying to run this investigation with our security team to figure out who doxed my direct employee. I’m answering questions because I’m under investigation. And I’m still trying to keep the train moving on actually holding a caste-equity talk and getting the speaker cleared. In May, a number of conversations started to happen where it became clear that there were no universal standards for actually bringing speakers into the company. There was no way to actually get approval for a speaker on caste equity. [The Google spokesperson told The New Yorker, “We made the decision not to move forward with this proposed talk which was pulling employees apart rather than bringing our community together and raising awareness.”]

Then I got issued a warning letter saying that I had violated these standards of conduct and that I was going to be penalized for showing a lack of good judgment, for disrupting the workplace, and for making people feel unsafe because I publicly outed them, even though I never, ever publicly named the Google employees who complained. My ratings were going to be lowered, and my compensation would be affected.

There was also an e-mail group within Google with around eight thousand employees of South Asian descent. What exactly was that forum?

t.g.: Eight thousand is a number that was tallied up from the different Google groups or aliases. We have internally moderated forums. Some forums are specific to groups—Hindus at Google, or Desis at Google, things like that. It’s a mix of them. My initial e-mail started getting forwarded to different forums, and then you could just see these e-mail threads spawn. I wasn’t engaging with any of them, but I saw conversations in which people were denying that caste discrimination was ever a thing, were saying that people weren’t smart enough to understand this topic, all these different kinds of allegations.

Did you have any conversations with fellow-employees who were opposed to this talk?

t.g.: No. At that point, the whole H.R. machine had kicked in, so I couldn’t engage with any of these conversations for risk of being seen as retaliatory.

Riaz Haq said...

I think Americans have a pretty clear idea of who at a company might object to a conversation about the way law enforcement treats African Americans, and who would say “All lives matter,” or something like that. They would have an idea of politically where those people were coming from. What do you think was going on here?

t.g.: I think it’s probably a couple of things combined. There’s certainly the nationalist political movement that is well documented across the board, and the emboldening of that movement with the current leadership [in India]. Apart from that political side, any time you talk about a topic that’s going to threaten your own power you’re going to get some resistance. To your point of comparing it to talking about police brutality and racism in America, I think that’s exactly what we’re seeing here. Caste is just a different concept than we’re used to in America. We understand race, we understand religion, but caste is neither of those things fully. That’s where I think the lack of understanding is happening right now.



The right-wing Hindu movement in India has historically not been associated with people from underprivileged castes, and those people have generally been less supportive of the movement. Much of the criticism of the ruling party in India and talk of caste discrimination has been chalked up to “anti-Hinduism.”

t.g.: It’s so absurd to me. If you think about L.G.B.T.Q. rights, when you have a talk about those kinds of rights, that is not saying you’re inherently anti-Christian. They’re so different. That’s the only way I can think to explain it to someone here. The opposite of caste is not religion.

That’s where things have gotten really conflated. This was a talk about civil rights and the cultural and socioeconomic impact of caste discrimination on people in America, and how this system has moved here. That’s what we were trying to talk about, but, when you have people who are threatened by that conversation, because they associate caste discrimination with religion, with that kind of power, that’s where a lot of the conflicts came in.

One of the things that strike me as ironic here is that the language from those opposed to the talk is not unfamiliar. You can imagine, in another context, people who support D.E.I. efforts saying that, if people who are Hindu feel offended by this talk or feel that it’s an attack on their religion, that is a really important thing to protect. Is there a tension there?

t.g.: You don’t get to claim or hijack one form of discrimination to perpetuate another form. I had many personal friends who I could talk to about this who were, like, “I am Hindu, I am Brahmin, and I am deeply disturbed with how Hinduism is being used to perpetuate caste discrimination.” I don’t want to say that this is a monolithic thing, how Hindus feel about this. That’s not at all what I’m saying. I’m half-Hindu. You can absolutely have a conversation about caste discrimination and know that there may be religious roots in some of it, but that’s not where we are today. We are talking about a socioeconomic issue. That’s how you can hold the two things in your brain together. Does that answer your question?

Riaz Haq said...

If there were a talk scheduled at a large company and a number of employees at the talk said that they felt that it was offensive to their religion, which was not a majority religion in the United States, a lot of people would be sympathetic to that and think that they should listen to those people. In this case, I happen to think that’s ridiculous, just like I think it’s ridiculous to say that people who critique Modi are advancing an anti-Hindu agenda, but, in the current moment, one which D.E.I. has played a role in creating, I understand why people’s attitude is, “Whoa, we’ve got to listen to these people who say that this talk is offensive to their religion.”

t.g.: This is where we have to talk about what’s “offensive” versus real harm. The real harm is when people are denied a voice, when they cannot speak about their own working conditions and the harm that they have faced socioeconomically. That is real harm compared with being offended because your own power is threatened and you’re feeling a little bit more fragile but you can’t point to actual harm that’s been done to you. The only people that got really harmed in this were all the people who are caste oppressed, who essentially are now feeling even more worried about being outed and have had their discrimination ignored. And my direct employee who got doxed. Those are the people that are really harmed.

A lot of tech companies, Twitter most recently, have been engaged in squabbles with the Indian government about matters of free speech. Did you have any sense that people in Google were concerned about pissing off the Indian government in some way?

cara greene: I’m just going to jump in. I don’t think Tanuja is in a position really to speak about Google and what they were thinking in that situation or what was driving their concerns beyond what was expressed to her.

Without focussing on this situation, is that something that you think that tech companies like Google are generally worried or concerned about? India right now is undergoing some very fast changes, and press freedom has been declining. Was that something that was on your mind, or your employees’ minds?

t.g.: I would be hesitant to try to speak to what could or couldn’t have been on their minds. I do know that we have a very large footprint in India, both in consumers and workers.

How did your departure from Google occur?

t.g.: When I got that conduct warning letter, it was kind of game over. My career was over, but the terms of the letter were still vague and I never got any answers to the questions that I posed. It was just clear from that letter that they wanted me gone. I decided that I needed to leave the company and make sure that my team was in as good a shape as possible. That was the last two weeks of May. At that point, I was still trying to have a talk on caste equity, to see if we could have something within Asian Heritage Month. But, because we had no clear vetting standards, some of the other speakers we considered were, like, “Why would we go through this? Why would we come speak after what has happened?”

Do you think Google is an outlier in terms of caste issues in Silicon Valley?

t.g.: This is not unique to Google. This is happening across tech because of the large number of South Asian employees. What I do think is unique to Google is the fact that they shut this talk down. This speaker, Soundararajan, has spoken at a number of other companies in Silicon Valley. For Google to not really have the cultural competence of understanding what was happening and to cancel the talk is what’s surprising. That’s really unfortunate because they can set a precedent for what’s going to happen at some of these other locations.

Riaz Haq said...

Since you left the company, are there things you’re not allowed to say legally or subjects you’re not allowed to discuss?

c.g.: Google requires of its employees a pretty extensive nondisclosure agreement that really limits what they can talk about with respect to their employment at Google. Luckily, and thankfully, California, among other places, passed the Silence No More Act, which allows Tanuja to speak freely about the discrimination and retaliation that she experienced and observed in the workplace. But that nondisclosure agreement does curtail employees and former employees from being able to speak freely about what they observed in the workplace.

t.g.: I’ll answer your question the way I can. First of all, I’m glad that you even asked because it’s been really frustrating to see some of the press coverage that said that I just left the company or resigned over the incident like it was an ultimatum. It wasn’t. There was this whole other thing where I was facing retaliation for reporting it in the first place. When I left, I filed a request for an investigation into retaliation and creating a safe workplace for caste-oppressed individuals.

Out of respect for the time that Alphabet has requested to conduct that investigation, I haven’t spoken publicly until now. At this point, we’re some per cent of the way through what looks like a pretty classic kind of deny, delay, distract cycle.

This is seen across different companies and across different topics. I’ve had a number of women of color who have reached out to me saying, “Hey, I’ve had similar experiences working on D.E.I. at my company,” or even within Google as well. And what is the safe way to do this work?

Yeah, you had a striking line in your goodbye letter saying that this work tends to fall on women.

t.g.: Yeah, because women, especially women of color, are disproportionately affected by a lot of these matters, they’re often the group that has the most scholarship and experience to address them. You then have the burden of also educating your colleagues, counselling them through these kinds of topics, and then leading the charge as well. But you only have credibility to do those things if you’re also really good at your other jobs where you’re useful to the company. You end up taking on a double amount of work, but you want to do it because it’s the right thing to do. And then, the moment that you kind of go out of your place, you get retaliated against. ♦

Riaz Haq said...

#Google employee resigns saying company ‘silences #Palestinians’. Ariel Koren, who is #Jewish, has worked for Google for over 7 years and said Google’s actions to stifle outspoken workers – not just herself – have been par for the course.

https://aje.io/vrmn00 via @AJEnglish

Ariel Koren had spoken out about a $1.2bn collaboration between Google, Amazon and the Israeli military called Project Nimbus.


A Google employee who became a high-profile opponent of the tech giant’s $1bn artificial intelligence and surveillance contract with the Israeli military has announced her resignation.

Ariel Koren, a marketing manager, will be leaving the company this week, citing what she said was its creation of a hostile work environment due to her social activism.


“I am leaving @Google this week due to retaliation & hostility against workers who speak out,” tweeted Koren. “Google moved my role overseas immediately after I opposed its $1B AI/surveillance contracts with Israel. And this is far from an isolated instance.”

The controversy began when Koren protested Google’s $1.2bn collaboration with Amazon and the Israeli military on a programme called Project Nimbus.

She spent more than a year organising her protest to persuade Google to pull out of the deal, including circulating petitions, lobbying executives and speaking out to news organisations.

However, Koren said that instead of listening to her concerns, Google blindsided her in November 2021 with an ultimatum: either agree to move from San Francisco in the US state of California to Sao Paulo, Brazil, or lose her job.

Koren said there was no business justification for the mandated move and filed a complaint with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB).

However, both Google and the NLRB investigated her complaint and found no wrongdoing, according to multiple media reports.

At least 15 other Palestinian employees and allies have shared their experiences describing the “institutionalised bias” within the company.

“It has become impossible to express any opinion of disagreement of the war waged on Palestinians without being called into a HR [sic] meeting with the threat of retaliation,” one Palestinian employee said.

In an online post written Tuesday on the publishing platform Medium, Koren said her outspoken views and social activism prompted Google to stifle her by relocating her employment overseas.

Riaz Haq said...

Hindu nationalism in India ratchets up tensions among immigrants in the U.S.

https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2022-09-06/hindu-nationalism-grows-in-the-united-states

In a park in Anaheim last month, hundreds gathered to celebrate Indian Independence Day.

They bought Indian food from booths and settled on the grass to watch traditional song and dance performances. The holiday had special significance this year: Aug. 15 was the 75th anniversary of the end of British rule.

Then, about a dozen people, most of whom were Indian American, marched silently past the crowd, carrying signs that read “Abolish caste” and “Protect India’s Muslim lives.”

A few men from the independence celebration charged at the protesters, grabbing the signs, breaking them and throwing them into trash cans. Some shouted obscenities in Hindi-Urdu. They called the protesters “stupid Muslims” and yelled at them to “get out of here.”

Through a microphone, an announcer led a chant: “Bharat Mata ki jai” — “Victory for Mother India.”

“We are Indian,” Rita Kaur, a protester who is Sikh and was born and raised in Southern California, said later. “We are simply speaking for Indians who are harmed relentlessly.”

Indian Independence Day means vastly different things to different people in a country shaped by religious and ethnic conflicts, as well as caste discrimination.

For many of the majority Hindu religion, the day represents the end of colonialism and the birth of India as an independent nation that became the world’s largest democracy.

For many Muslims and other minorities, it represents the bloody partition of the former British colony into India and Pakistan and the persecution of non-Hindus and lower castes.

Since Narendra Modi became prime minister of India in 2014, his naked appeals to patriotism and his party’s frequent scapegoating of minorities, especially Muslims, have resonated with some who believe he has made the country stronger and safer. Meanwhile, religious minorities, especially Muslims, have faced mob attacks from Hindu vigilante groups.

Those conflicts have sometimes spilled over into Indian communities in the United States.

An Indian Independence Day parade last month in Edison, N.J., featured a bulldozer with a photo of Modi — a provocative symbol when local officials in India have used bulldozers to demolish the homes of Muslims. Parade organizers later apologized.

In Silicon Valley, discrimination against people from the Dalit caste surfaced in a lawsuit filed in 2020 by California officials on behalf of an engineer at Cisco Systems who alleged that higher-caste supervisors gave him lower pay and fewer opportunities. At Google this year, a talk about caste equity was canceled after some employees accused the speaker of being anti-Hindu.

“This poison of sectarian hatred has been getting more widespread,” said Rohit Chopra, a communications professor at Santa Clara University who has long been critical of Modi and his supporters for promoting Hindu nationalism. “That same pattern of increasing aggression and impunity seems to have replicated itself in the diaspora.”

Organizers of the Anaheim Independence Day celebration did not respond to requests for comment. In a statement to NBC Asian America, organizer Manoj Agrawal said the event was “not religion-biased” and included many Muslim vendors.

Agrawal said the protesters intended “to create trouble and then record something which can help them to showcase something.”

The Hindu American Foundation, a nonprofit advocacy group, defended the Independence Day organizers. The protesters were seeking to “disrupt children performing on stage inside the event,” the group’s managing director, Samir Kalra, said in a statement.

Riaz Haq said...

Only 3% Muslims are in Indian national media

https://muslimmirror.com/eng/muslims-are-only-3-in-indian-national-media/


Recently, Oxfam India released a report titled “Who Tells Our Stories Matters: Representation of Marginalised Caste Groups in Indian Media.” It says; 90% of leadership positions in Indian media are occupied by Upper Caste groups with not even a single Dalit or Adivasi heading Indian mainstream media.

Exactly the same findings were made by the social activist and psephologist, Yogendra Yadav in 2006 who did a similar survey about the social profile of the national media professionals in India.

Yadav recalls the days of the Mandal II agitation in 2006 when he did this survey; “It was more a rudimentary headcount than a scientific survey but it confirmed our worst suspicions about caste, gender, and religion across Indian media.”

“We drew up a list of 40 national media outlets (Hindi and English TV channels and newspapers) and requested someone there to draw a list of their top 10 editor-level decision-makers. Then we recorded information on the gender, religion, and caste against each name. We had shortlisted 400 persons but were able to collect information on 315 only” he recalls.

Our findings were; “A staggering 88 percent of this elite list were upper-caste Hindus, a social group that cannot possibly exceed 20 percent of India’s population. Brahmins alone, no more than 2-3 percent of the population, occupied 49 percent of positions. Not even a single person in this list turned out to be from Dalit or Adivasi background. More relevant to the case in point, the OBCs, whose population is estimated to be around 45 percent, was merely 4 percent among the top media professionals. Women accounted for only 16 percent.

Yadav says that “the representation of the 14 percent Muslims was only 3 percent in the national media. He adds that brazen anti-minority headlines get routinely generated in media and the communal flare-up gets 9 times more coverage than caste conflict in India.”

Yadav says what we summarized in 2006 that India’s ‘national’ media lacks social diversity; it does not reflect the country’s social profile comes true with findings of the Oxfam report on media in India. The big picture that remains the same even after 15 years is that 20 percent of the country gets 80 percent voice in the media and the remaining 80 percent is limited to 20 percent media space.

Yogendra Yadav’s writeup “Hindu upper-caste Indian media is a lot like White-dominated South Africa” can be accessed in The Print, October 27, 2022.


---------------

Media has been perceived by the masses as a sacrosanct institution but how these are governed is a matter of mystery. While a wide range of issues are discussed, covered and aired both in print as well as on news channels, caste disparity within media houses has hardly ever been a topic of serious discussion. The deliberate ignorance of the issues that affect marginalised communities has led them to come up with their own channels.

This study is an attempt to find out the status of representation among SC, ST, OBC & DNT in different media outlets. The research team has explored the challenges faced by newsrooms, looked for existing best practices that different countries have adopted and also provided suggestions to make newsrooms more inclusive.


https://www.oxfamindia.org/knowledgehub/workingpaper/who-tells-our-stories-matters-representation-marginalised-caste-groups-indian-media

Riaz Haq said...

REFILE-Google sets rules for HQ guest speakers after row over Indian historian-email

by Paresh Dave

https://biz.crast.net/refile-google-sets-rules-for-hq-guest-speakers-after-row-over-indian-historian-email/

Controversies over speakers have plagued Google since at least April, when it said internal bickering prompted the cancellation of a talk by author Thenmozhi Soundararajan on India’s socio-religious caste system, which disenfranchised people from caste prejudice. advocates.

Members of an international Hindu group complained about Sundararajan, calling her rhetoric inflammatory, an allegation she calls bigotry.

At least one critic suggested inviting Rajeev Malhotra for balance, according to internal messages. Malhotra, a tech entrepreneur turned self-described contrarian writer, has labeled activists such as Soundararajan as “snakes” and criticized affirmative action policies promoting lower caste groups.

Per an invitation, Google’s Hindu group eventually scheduled Malhotra to speak about India’s positive global impact. But according to a follow-up announcement, organizers canceled on November 10, the day before the planned talk at the Google offices in Silicon Valley.

According to a message seeking complaints, some employees complained about Malhotra to senior management. A linked document organized by the Alphabet Workers’ Union, a labor organization that is petitioning Google to name caste in its non-discrimination policies, noted Malhotra described homosexuality as a medical condition and Islam a destructive one. described as a force.

Malhotra told Reuters that he supports marginalized communities but “politicizes prejudice in ways that divide society and make them vulnerable to foreign colonialism.”

According to messages among staff, allowing Soundararajan’s speech after his speech was canceled would have contradicted standards.


-------------


OAKLAND, California, Nov 18 (Reuters) – Alphabet Inc’s Google this week introduced rules for inviting guest speakers to its offices, days after it canceled a talk by an Indian historian who criticized the company’s history. Marginalized groups and their concerns were dismissed, according to the email. by Reuters.

The policy released Thursday is Google’s latest effort to preserve an open culture while addressing the divisions that have emerged as its workforce has grown.

In recent years, workers at Google and other big tech companies have clashed and protested among themselves over politics and racial and gender equality. In addition, Alphabet, Apple Inc and Amazon.com Inc all face organizing drives from unions whose demands include that the companies adopt progressive policies.

Google speaker rules, seen by Reuters, cite risks to the brand from some talks and ask workers to “consider whether there is a business reason to host the speaker and if the event directly supports our company goals.” does.”

It called for avoiding topics that could be “disruptive or undermine Google’s culture of belonging” and reiterated that speakers are barred from advocating for political candidates and ballot measures.

“We are always proud to host external speakers at Google, as they provide great opportunities for learning and connection for our employees,” Google spokesman Ryan Lamont told Reuters. The updated process “will ensure that these events are useful and contribute to a productive work environment.”

An email introducing the policy to managers said it unifies and clarifies a patchwork of guidelines.

Greater scrutiny threatens the free-flowing, university-like culture that Google has prized since its inception. But a workplace seen as more inviting could attract a more diverse workforce that could help Google develop products with broader appeal.

Riaz Haq said...

Another popular Hindu mythological text often shared with children is the Ramayana. In the story Rama, his wife Sita, and his brother Lakshmana are presented as dashing and heroic, particularly because they had braved exile and fought against a terrifying demon king, Ravana. Yet a closer look at the full Sanskrit text of Valmiki’s Ramayana reveals a violent undercurrent in its reinforcement of dharma. In one later addition to the story, a Brahmin goes to King Rama with his son dead in his arms. You must have done something wrong as king, he says, otherwise my son would not have died. A sage at court explains that the son died because a Shudra peasant fouled the order by learning to read and doing ascetic practices to try to ascend to heaven, which as a member of the lower caste he had no right to do.

Soundararajan, Thenmozhi. The Trauma of Caste (p. 64). North Atlantic Books. Kindle Edition.

Rama immediately leaps into his flying chariot and spies a mystic hanging upside down from a tree in an act of spiritual asceticism. It’s the Shudra Shambuka, who explains to Rama he is doing this rigorous penance in hopes of knowing the divine. Rama doesn’t even let him finish his sentence. He just slices Shambuka’s head off. All the gods cry out, “Well done!” Flowers from the heavens rain down on Rama, and the dead child of the Brahmin comes back to life.32 This story terrified me as a caste-oppressed child. I could not understand what was wrong with wanting to aspire to know God. Even more tragic than the existential implications of this story, today this kind of ritual decapitation occurs as the violence prescribed in scripture has spread across the subcontinent. Scriptural edict has become material violence.

Soundararajan, Thenmozhi. The Trauma of Caste (p. 65). North Atlantic Books. Kindle Edition.

Riaz Haq said...

#Hindu Nationalists have also targeted #Jewish-#American Professor Audrey Truschke with vicious threats and abuse on her various social-media profiles, including threats of #rape and #murder, as well as anti-#Muslim and #Antisemitic slurs. #Islamophobia https://caravanmagazine.in/history/hindu-right-cannot-debate-me-audrey-truschke

Audrey Truschke is an associate professor of South Asian history at the Rutgers University in New Jersey, in the United States. Truschke’s research focuses on the history of early and modern India. She has written three books on the subject—Culture of Encounters, on Sanskrit in the Mughal courts; Aurangzeb: The Man and the Myth which argues for a reassessment of the Mughal king; and the recently published Language of History: Sanskrit Narratives of Indo-Muslim rule.

Truschke has regularly come under severe criticism from Hindu right-wing nationalists, who see her academic research into India’s complex multicultural past and religious history as an affront to their beliefs. Beginning with the release of her first book, Truschke has faced a constant barrage of online harassment, hate mail, co-ordinated attacks on social media, and in some cases, even censure—in August 2018, a lecture she was due to give in Hyderabad was cancelled due to security threats, after the police received letters of opposition. The same year, she faced an outpouring of threats and abuse after she tweeted that according to one loosely translated verse in Valmiki’s mythological epic Ramayana, Sita called Ram a “misogynistic pig.” Truschke discussed this interpretation and the misogynistic response from the Hindu right-wing, in an article in this publication.

In early March this year, Truschke began facing a spike in vicious threats and abuse on her various social-media profiles, including threats of rape and murder, as well as anti-Muslim and anti-Semitic slurs. The abuse referred primarily to her scholarship on India. On 9 March, Truschke tweeted that in recent days, she had faced an “avalanche of hate speech” and threats endangering her family. She said she had blocked 5,750 accounts “and counting.” A few days earlier, an anonymous Twitter account “@hinduoncampus,” which claimed to be run by Hindu students in US universities, circulated an open letter to the Rutgers administration, describing Truschke’s work as “bigotry against Hindus.” In a statement issued on 9 March, Rutgers University called for an end to the trolling, and backed Truschke’s academic freedom to pursue “controversial” scholarship. It also promised to begin a dialogue with the Hindu students on campus.


Riaz Haq said...

'Brahmins represent the head of India': Manoj Muntashir's video on JNU postershttps://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/mangal-pandey-chanakya-were-brahmins-manoj-muntashir-s-video-on-jnu-posters-101670162529384.html

Brahmins represent Only Brahmins pray for the good for everyone even when he has nothing to eat, Manoj Muntashir said in his video slamming the anti-Brahmin slogans at JNU. “I am proud that I am Brahmin," he said in the video.Writer and lyricist Manoj Muntashir has released a video protesting the anti-Brahmin slogans which recently surfaced on the walls of Jawaharlal Nehru University triggering a massive row. In his video, Manoj Muntashir said it is a stereotype that the Brahmins are facing as everywhere they are portrayed as 'greedy and wicked'. Clarifying that he is not part of any political party, the artiste said his aim for the video was to say the truth about Brahmins.

On Thursday, the walls of the JNU campus were defaced with slogans like "Brahmins leave the campus", "There will be blood", "Brahmin Bharat Chhodo", "Brahmino-Baniyas, we are coming for you!" etc. 'Go back to Shakha' was found written inside the chambers of the Brahmin professors. While the university authorities ordered a probe, no group took responsibility for the defacement.

"Though India was plundered several times by outside forces in history, it did not lose everything and who saved these things from the plunderers? The Brahmins. I don't need to remind you that Mangal Pandey and Chanakya were Brahmins," Manoj Muntashir said."We are the kingmakers; Brahmins never hankered after power. Maharishi Vasistha never wanted to capture Ayodhya," Manoj Muntashir said adding that some people think Brahmins divided the society into castes but it is not the fact, he said. Brahmins represent the head of India and it should never be bowed down, Manoj Muntashir added.The JNU episode created a row and the university in past has been accused of fanning 'anti-national' activities. After the incident, Vishwa Hindu Parishad said coward Leftist agenda will not be successful as JNU now has adopted the idea of nationalism and social harmony/

Riaz Haq said...

Dalit Activist Thenmozhi Soundararajan Takes on Caste
Her debut book, The Trauma of Caste, exposes caste oppression in the South Asian subcontinent and the United States.

https://www.harpersbazaar.com/culture/features/a42257504/dalit-activism/

When Thenmozhi Soundararajan was 10 years old, she discovered that her Indian family was “untouchable”—they belonged to the lowest caste in Hinduism. Though abolished in India’s constitution in 1950, the thousands-of-years-old social and religious hierarchy, which classifies people into five levels based on spiritual purity, persists in South Asia and the diaspora. Soundararajan’s parents, who hailed from the state of Tamil Nadu, fled caste oppression in 1975 to become one of the first Tamil families to immigrate to Los Angeles. Though they built successful careers as physicians while raising two children, they took great pains to hide their caste from other South Asian Americans.

Soundararajan soon learned why during a playdate at an Indian friend’s house, whose family belonged to the highest caste, Brahmin. When Soundararajan mentioned that she was untouchable, a look of disgust flashed across her friend’s mother’s face. Due to the belief that Brahmins cannot share food or even eat from the same kitchenware as members of the lowest caste, she switched Soundararajan’s snack plate to a different one.

Soundararajan was devastated. As she learned more about her caste and her family's experiences, her trauma from caste grew. Her self-esteem suffered for years. “I was haunted by the lie fed to me by caste oppression—that I wasn't human enough,” she says. “I felt dirty. I was always washing my hands, smoothing my clothes, and fidgeting with my hair. I picked apart my features and my complexion. I had a lingering sense of imposter syndrome that was difficult to shake for many years.”

I was haunted by the lie fed to me by caste oppression—that I wasn't human enough

Soundararajan has since made it her mission to end caste oppression, a journey she recounts in her debut book, The Trauma of Caste: A Dalit Feminist Meditation on Survivorship, Healing, and Abolition (North Atlantic Books). The word Dalit translates to broken and is the caste Brahmins deem untouchable. But as Soundararajan explains in the book, Dalit also represents the resilience, survival, and the pride of her people.

Caste extends far beyond the borders of the South Asian subcontinent. It impacts 1.9 billion South Asians and 5.5 million South Asians in the United States. It is also found in all South Asian religious communities. “For anyone born into a culture where caste is prevalent,” Soundararajan says, “it determines who and where they worship, where they live, choices and advancement in education and career, even personal relationships—in essence, their entire lives.” Dalits in South Asia face rampant human rights abuses and have a much lower life expectancy than dominant-caste South Asians. Speaking out about caste violence has made Soundararajan a target. “To be a woman leader today means you have to deal with endless threats, gaslighting, and very little support for your safety. We are strong on the outside, but vulnerable and tender as we work with the pain of those attacks.”

In 2015, Soundararajan cofounded Equality Labs, a Dalit civil rights organization. One year later, Equality Labs conducted the first survey on caste discrimination in the United States. It found, among other things, that two out of three Dalits were mistreated because of their caste in the workplace, one in four had endured verbal or physical assault because of their caste, and one in three Dalit students were discriminated against in education. “The results were shocking, even to us,” Soundararajan says. “Dalits have some of the highest rates of discrimination and violence of all Asian American communities.” The survey led to Equality Labs, its partners, and the office of Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal to organize the first congressional briefing on caste discrimination.

Riaz Haq said...

Dalit Activist Thenmozhi Soundararajan Takes on Caste

https://www.harpersbazaar.com/culture/features/a42257504/dalit-activism/

We are strong on the outside, but vulnerable and tender as we work with the pain
Caste discrimination in this country has made headlines in recent years. One of its epicenters is Silicon Valley. In 2020, California’s Department of Fair Employment and Housing sued CISCO for discrimination based on caste when two dominant caste supervisors mistreated a Dalit engineer and paid him a lower salary than others. Soon thereafter, Apple became the first large tech company to explicitly ban caste discrimination in its employee handbook, along with race, religion, gender, age, and ancestry.

U.S. temples have also been the site of caste oppression. Last year, a federal lawsuit was filed against BAPS, a Hindu denomination, for paying Dalits far below minimum wage and forcing them to live in a guarded compound while constructing new temples. “Caste is a workers’ rights issue,” Soundararajan says. “We have to work together to make all workplaces safer for all workers and add caste as a protected category.”

The Trauma of Caste is a prescription for healing. It contains meditations on restoration, nonattachment practice, and the importance of forming connections with myriad communities. For Soundararajan, conversion to Buddhism in adulthood, following in the footsteps of Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar, a Dalit scholar, activist, and drafter of the Indian constitution, played an important role in her quest for peace. “For me, becoming Buddhist was claiming my own divinity. It was acknowledging how much violence I faced in religious institutions and charting my own path as a seeker that acknowledged my beauty, my power, my dignity, and my life. Buddhism helped me find a way to make peace with the violence that has shaped me, without letting it define me.”

It is a powerful thing to return to your fellow humans and leave behind the lies
But the violence won’t end until the eradication of caste begins, Soundararajan says. Members of dominant castes must reflect on their privilege and fragility with great intention and mindfulness. “They have benefited for centuries from the exploitation and discrimination of caste-oppressed people. They must confront the histories of blood and violence that have created the conditions for their power and led to their family wealth, land, and resources.” Dominant-caste South Asians must also find ways to take direct, measurable action. “They can add caste as a protected category in their workplace, speak out about ethnonationalist violence in our homelands, and challenge caste privilege in their family and friend networks.”

An oppressive system only divides and fractures everyone. A reckoning with caste, and the pain it continues to cause, Soundararajan says, is an opportunity to restore humanity globally. “It is a powerful thing to return to your fellow humans and leave behind the social lies that have harmed all of us for too long. This is no time for silence. It is instead the time to heal.”

Riaz Haq said...

Hundreds killed each year for marrying outside caste: CJI DY Chandrachud

https://www.indiatoday.in/law/story/hundreds-killed-each-year-for-marrying-outside-caste-chief-justice-of-india-dy-chandrachud-2310427-2022-12-17

Hundreds of people are killed each year for falling in love or marrying outside their castes or against the wishes of their families, the Chief Justice of India (CJI) DY Chandrachud said today while speaking on morality and its interplay with the law.

The CJI made the statement while referring to an incident of honor killing in Uttar Pradesh in 1991 as carried in a news article by the American magazine, Time.

The article shared the story of a 15-year-old girl who eloped with a man of 20 from a lower caste. They were later murdered by the upper castes of the village, and believed their actions were justified because they complied with the code of conduct of society.

The CJI was delivering the Ashok Desai Memorial Lecture on the topic ‘Law and Morality: The Bounds and Reaches’, addressing questions on the indissoluble link between law, morality, and group rights.

While talking about morality, the CJI said that expressions of good and bad, right and wrong are often used in everyday conversations.

The CJI said that while the law regulates external relations, morality governs the inner life and motivation. Morality appeals to our conscience and often influences the way we behave.

‘We can all agree that morality is a system of values that prescribes a code of conduct. But, do all of us principally agree on what constitutes morality? That is, is it necessary that what is moral for me ought to be moral to you as well?’ he asked.

While discussing what constitutes ‘adequate morality’, the CJI said that groups that have traditionally held positions of power in the socio-economic-political context of society have an advantage over the weaker sections in this bargaining process to reach adequate morality.

The CJI further built an argument that vulnerable groups are placed at the bottom of the social structure and that their consent, even if attained, is a myth. For example, Max Weber argued that the Dalits have never rebelled.

He pointed out that the dominant groups, by attacking the etiquette of the vulnerable groups, often prevent them from creating an identity that is unique to themselves.

The CJI elaborated on the same by sharing an example of clothing being one of the tools employed by dominant castes to alienate the Dalit community, where it was a wide-spread norm that the members of the Dalit community must wear marks of inferiority to be identified.

The CJI further spoke about how, even after the framing of the Constitution, the law has been imposing ‘adequate morality’, that is, the morality of the dominant community.

Riaz Haq said...

A Hindutva politician talking caste might sound paradoxical. After all, isn’t the RSS vision all about papering over fraternal caste faultlines to forge a monolithic Hindutva identity? Well, annihilation of caste is not a Hindutva identity project.


https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/opinion/et-commentary/narendra-modis-caste-makes-sense-in-heartland-politics/articleshow/29136565.cms?from=mdr

Caste is an Indian reality and the assertion of Hindu identity is always a confirmation of caste pride too. In the Hindu pyramidal caste hierarchy, the top Brahminical cone exists only because of the large Shudra and the other backward caste base. If the base goes, the pyramid collapses. So, the Brahminical hierarchy depends primarily on the assertion of allegiance of the backward castes.

The more the backward castes become assertive Hindus, the stronger the Hindu hierarchy and Hindutva identity. Thus, Narendra Modi is a godsend to upper-caste voters of the Gangetic plains. The moment he underscores his backward caste identity within the larger Hindutva fold, the bigger “Hindu hridaya samrat” he becomes.

Afeudal Brahmin or Rajput or Vaishya of Uttar Pradesh gets socially reassured when a backward-caste person acknowledges the relative Hindu hierarchical positions and upholds the Hindutva model. The greatest upper-caste political push for the RSS happened when Kalyan Singh, a backward caste, led the BJP in UP.


Kalyan Singh, Uma Bharti and Vinay Katiyar, three leaders from the Lodh Rajput community, were the most visible faces of the Ram Janmabhoomi movement. Like the loyal monkey army of the ideal Kshatriya, leaders of the backward castes gave the greatest legitimacy for the Ram temple political programme.


It was this felt need of the cadre that Modi addressed on Sunday in Delhi’s Ramlila Maidan as he flaunted his backward caste and working class origins. And the timing was perfect. He was responding to the attack on him by a liberal, upper-class, Brahmin Mani Shankar Iyer. Though the Gandhi-Nehru family retains some status of the prime Brahmin political family it used to be and the Congress still partakes of the dwindling dividends of Panditji’s legacy, the family and leaders like Iyer are seen a ..

Modi’s chaiwala challenge, hence, is a call to all the backward-caste voters of the heartland, while reassuring the core Sangh upper-caste constituency. This tactic, Sangh insiders hope, will add to the BJP kitty just as Kalyan Singh could rally the backward castes for the Parviar during the 1990s. Then, the Kalyan magic had worked. He won the party 52 seats in 1991, 51 in 1996 and 57 in 1998 from undivided Uttar Pradesh.


Former chief of Jan Sangh, Balraj Madhok, always used to point out that even a western-educated liberal like Jawaharlal Nehru allowed himself to be referred to as Panditji because the Congress party wanted to tell the heartland masses, in no uncertain terms, that Nehru was a Brahmin.

Similarly, nothing can enthuse the Sangh Parivar cadre more than the assertion of Modi’s caste identity. The Modi surname is largely associated with the uppercaste Vaishya community from Rajasthan and elsewhere. So, till it is spelt out, the backward class or caste origins of the BJP’s PM candidate remain obscure.

Riaz Haq said...

2022: A Look back at hate crimes against Dalits and Adivasis in Modi's India

https://cjp.org.in/2022-a-look-back-at-hate-crimes-against-dalits-and-adivasis/

To witness such incidents even in this day and age is not only disheartening but should shock the conscience of the nation.

As per the statistics provided in the NCRB report, atrocities/Crime against Scheduled Castes have increased by 1.2% in 2021 (50,900) over 2020 (50,291 cases).

Uttar Pradesh (13,146 cases) reported the highest number of cases of atrocities against Scheduled Castes (SCs) accounting for 25.82% followed by Rajasthan with 14.7% (7,524) and Madhya Pradesh with 14.1% (7,214) during 2021. The next two states in the list are Bihar accounting for 11.4% (5,842) and Odisha 4.5% (2,327). The above top five states reported 70.8% of cases of atrocities against Scheduled Castes.

Furthermore, as per the report, Atrocities/Crime against Scheduled Tribes have increased by 6.4% in 2021 (8,802 cases) over 2020 (8,272 cases).

Madhya Pradesh (2627, cases) reported the highest number of cases of atrocities against Scheduled Tribes (STs) accounting for 29.8% followed by Rajasthan with 24% (2121 cases) and Odisha with 7.6% (676 cases) during 2021. Maharashtra was next in the list with 7.13% (628 cases) followed by Telangana at 5.81% (512 cases). The above top five states reported 74.57% of cases of atrocities against Scheduled Tribes.

In terms of ratio to the overall population, Dalits (SCs) are estimated to be at 16.6 per cent of the population and Adivasis/Indigenous peoples (STs) at 8.6 per cent.

We look at some of the most shocking instances of crimes against Dalits and Adivasis in 2022.

Riaz Haq said...

How India’s caste system limits diversity in science — in six charts

https://www.nature.com/immersive/d41586-023-00015-2/index.html

Data show how privileged groups still dominate many of the country’s elite research institutes.

This article is part of a Nature series examining data on ethnic or racial diversity in science in different countries. See also: How UK science is failing Black researchers — in nine stark charts.

Samadhan is an outlier in his home village in western India. Last year, he became the first person from there to start a science PhD. Samadhan, a student in Maharashtra state, is an Adivasi or indigenous person — a member of one of the most marginalized and poorest communities in India.

For that reason, he doesn’t want to publicize his last name or institution, partly because he fears that doing so would bring his social status to the attention of a wider group of Indian scientists. “They’d know that I am from a lower category and will think that I have progressed because of [the] quota,” he says.

The quota Samadhan refers to is also known as a reservation policy: a form of affirmative action that was written into India’s constitution in 1950. Reservation policies aimed to uplift marginalized communities by allocating quotas for them in public-sector jobs and in education. Mirroring India’s caste system of social hierarchy, the most privileged castes dominated white-collar professions, including roles in science and technology. After many years, the Indian government settled on a 7.5% quota for Adivasis (referred to as ‘Scheduled Tribes’ in official records) and a 15% quota for another marginalized group, the Dalits (referred to in government records as ‘Scheduled Castes’, and formerly known by the dehumanizing term ‘untouchables’). These quotas — which apply to almost all Indian research institutes — roughly correspond to these communities’ representation in the population, according to the most recent census of 2011.

But the historically privileged castes — the ‘General’ category in government records — still dominate many of India’s elite research institutions. Above the level of PhD students, the representation of Adivasis and Dalits falls off a cliff. Less than 1% of professors come from these communities at the top-ranked institutes among the 23 that together are known as the Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs), according to data provided to Nature under right-to-information requests (see ‘Diversity at top Indian institutions’; the figures are for 2020, the latest available at time of collection).

“This is deliberate” on the part of institutes that “don’t want us to succeed”, says Ramesh Chandra, a Dalit, who retired as a senior professor at the University of Delhi last June. Researchers blame institute heads for not following the reservation policies, and the government for letting them off the hook.

Diversity gaps are common in science in many countries but they take different forms in each nation. The situation in India highlights how its caste system limits scientific opportunities for certain groups in a nation striving to become a global research leader.

India’s government publishes summary student data, but its figures for academic levels beyond this don’t allow analyses of scientists by caste and academic position, and most universities do not publish these data. In the past few years, however, journalists, student groups and researchers have been gathering diversity data using public-information laws, and arguing for change. Nature has used some of these figures, and its own information requests, to examine the diversity picture. Together, these data show that there are major gaps in diversity in Indian science institutions.

Riaz Haq said...

Ramayana is anti-OBC and anti-women


https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-india-64556116

Ramcharitmanas is counted by many scholars to be among the world's greatest literary creations. Celebrated author Pavan Varma calls it "a deeply philosophical work" which "is akin to the Bible for many Hindus".

Composed by Tulsidas, the poem is a retelling of Ramayana, the Sanskrit epic written by Hindu sage Valmiki 2,500 years ago. It's widely believed that Tulsidas's version, which is written in Awadhi - a dialect very similar to Hindi - is what made Ram's story accessible to the masses and why it became so popular.

The story of the crown prince of Ayodhya and his victory over the demon king Ravana is performed every year during the Dussehra festival across India. He is a god who's revered by millions of Hindus for his sense of justice and fair play.

But in the past few weeks, politicians on opposing sides have been arguing over whether the text is derogatory towards women as well as Dalits, who are at the bottom of India's deeply discriminatory caste system.

This is not the first time Tulsidas's epic, written more than 600 years ago, has been criticised, but what sets it apart this time is the scale of protests by both its supporters and critics. General elections in India are due in a year and politicians from both sides accuse each other of using the controversy over the book to polarise voters along caste lines.

Since January, protesters have burned pages allegedly containing excerpts from the book - and counter-protests have been held, demanding critics of the work be arrested.

At least five people, accused of desecrating the sacred text, have been arrested and, at the weekend, police invoked the National Security Act (NSA), a draconian law that makes bail nearly impossible, against two of the arrested men.



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Trouble started in January when a minister in the northern state of Bihar said the book was "spreading hatred in society". At a gathering of university students, Education Minister Chandrashekhar (who uses only one name) recited a few lines from Ramcharitmanas to prove his point.

"It says that if people from lower castes receive education, they become poisonous, like a snake becomes after drinking milk," he said.

A few days later, Swami Prasad Maurya, a prominent leader of a socially-disadvantaged community known as Other Backward Classes (OBC) and a member of the regional Samajwadi Party in Uttar Pradesh state, expressed similar sentiments.

Insisting that some verses of Ramcharitmanas were "offensive", he demanded that they be removed from the book.


"Why hurl abuse in the name of religion? I respect all religions. But if in the name of religion, a community or caste is humiliated then it is objectionable," The Indian Express quoted him as saying.

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Prof Hemlata Mahishwar of Delhi's Jamia University told BBC Hindi that "it's not just one or two lines but there are several verses" in Ramcharitmanas that are derogatory to women and Dalits.

"There's one couplet that says that a Brahmin is to be worshipped even if he's full of bad qualities. Whereas a Dalit, even if he's a Vedic scholar, cannot be respected. So how can we accept a book that's so biased?"

Some experts, however, say that Tulsidas was not a reformer and did have his biases, but the controversial lines are spoken by his characters and can't be taken to be a reflection of the author's opinion.

Akhilesh Shandilya, an expert on Ramcharitmanas, told BBC Hindi that the lines appear derogatory to Dalits and anti-women only when taken out of context and read in isolation.

But critics say that Ramcharitmanas has to be approached in the present-day context and deserves scrutiny and discussion, especially as it is a book that has such a hold on the imagination of Indians.

Riaz Haq said...

Lying in Hinduism

https://vedkabhed.com/index.php/2014/05/14/lying-in-hinduism/


Krishna said,
Brahma Vaivarta Purana, Krishna Janma Khanda 98.38-44 ”…Hari began to laugh and thus addressed Uddhava, using words of good import and worlds sanctioned by the Vedas, ”O Uddhava, untruth spoken to women or on the sporting ground, or in an emergency which endangers life or for the good of the vows or the Brahmin is not contemptible…” Tr. Rajendra Nath Sen

Matysa Purana 31.16 ”Sarmistha said:- ”King! there is no sin in speaking untruth at the time of indulging in sexual pleasures, on the occasion of marriage, when life is in danger, wealth is at stake, and in joke. Lying on these five occasions is venal.” Tr. Various Sanskrit Scholars, Edited by B.D. Basu

Mahabharata 8.69 ”In a situation of peril to life and in marriage, falsehood becomes utterable. In a situation involving the loss of one’s entire property, falsehood becomes utterable. On an occasion of marriage, or of enjoying a woman, or when life is in danger, or when one’s entire property is about to be taken away, or for the sake of a Brahmana, falsehood may be uttered. These five kinds of falsehood have been declared to be sinless. On these occasions falsehood would become truth and truth would become falsehood.”

Mahabharata 1.82 “Sarmishtha then said, ‘It hath been said, O king, that it is not sinful to lie on the occasion of a joke, in respect of women sought to be enjoyed, on occasions of marriage, in peril of immediate death and of the loss of one’s whole fortune. Lying is excusable on these five occasions.” Tr. K.M. Ganguli

Vasishtha Samhita 16.35 (Men) may speak an untruth at the time of marriage, during dalliance, when their lives are in danger or the loss of their whole property is imminent, and for the sake of a Brâhmana; they declare that an untruth spoken in these five cases does not make (the speaker) an outcast.

Gautama Samhita 23.29 Some (declare, that) an untruth (spoken) at the time of marriage, during dalliance, in jest or while (one suffers severe) pain is venial.

Riaz Haq said...

#Caste system in #Indian Prisons: Unconstitutional but legal – State prison manuals legitimize caste-based rules for prisoner activities, from cleaning to cooking. #India #Modi #BJP #Hindutva #Brahmin #Apartheid https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/blogs/toi-edit-page/caste-system-in-indian-prisons-unconstitutional-but-legal-state-prison-manuals-legitimise-caste-based-rules-for-prisoner-activities-from-cleaning-to-cooking-judiciary-must-step-in-to-stri/

By Atishya Kumar

India’s criminal justice system, a legacy of the Raj, is intended primarily to punish. Reformation or rehabilitation was never on the agenda. As a result, the age-old social system of caste remained prevalent in prisons. Worse still, many colonial policies heavily relied on caste-based rules for administration and maintenance of order in prisons.

To date, the primary law that governs management and administration of prisons is still the colonial era law – Prisons Act, 1894. That state-level prison manuals remain unchanged since the establishment of the modern prison system also prominently reflects the colonial and caste mentality.

Riaz Haq said...

New Indian textbooks purged of nation’s Muslim history

https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2023/04/06/india-textbooks-muslim-history-changes/


By Anumita Kaur


The Taj Mahal is one of India’s most iconic sites. But this year, millions of students across India won’t delve into the Mughal Empire that constructed it.

Instead, Indian students have new textbooks that have been purged of details on the nation’s Muslim history, its caste discrimination and more, in what critics say warps the country’s rich history in an attempt to further Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Hindu nationalist agenda.

The cuts, first reported by the Indian Express, are wide-ranging. Chapters on the country’s historic Islamic rulers are either slimmed down or gone; an entire chapter in the 12th-grade history textbook, “Kings and Chronicles: The Mughal Courts" was deleted. The textbooks omit references to the 2002 riots in the Indian state of Gujarat, where hundreds of Indian-Muslims were killed while Modi was the state’s leader. Details on India’s caste system, caste discrimination and minority communities are missing.

Passages that connected Hindu extremism to independence leader Mohandas K. Gandhi’s assassination were pruned as well, such as the 12th grade political science textbook line: Gandhi’s “steadfast pursuit of Hindu-Muslim unity provoked Hindu extremists so much that they made several attempts to assassinate [him].”

The new curriculum, developed by India’s National Council of Educational Research and Training, has been in the works since last year and will serve thousands of classrooms in at least 20 states across the country. It follows long-standing efforts by Modi and his Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to craft a Hindu nationalist narrative for the country — a platform that Modi ran on in 2014 and secured reelection with in 2019.

“The minds of children are now under direct onslaught in this kind of intense way, where textbooks must not ever reflect South Asia’s dynamic, complex history,” said Utathya Chattopadhyaya, a history professor at the University of California at Santa Barbara. “So you basically create a body of students who come out knowing very little about the history of social justice, the history of democracy, the history of diversity, and so on.”


India has been home to Hindu, Muslim and many other religious communities for centuries. British rule stoked tensions among communities, leading to violence in 1947 after the country was partitioned into Pakistan and modern India.

Hindu nationalism has intensified under Modi. It has led to violent clashes, bulldozing of Indian-Muslim communities and deepening polarization throughout India and its global diaspora.

The curriculum change is another step in the trend, Chattopadhyaya argued. BJP-led state governments have launched textbook revisions for years. But now it’s stretched to the national level.

“This is actually an intensification of something that’s been happening. It is a way of ‘Hindu-izing’ South Asian history and ignoring all other kinds of diverse plural histories that have existed,” he said.

Riaz Haq said...

'Hindutva Is Nothing But Brahminism'

https://www.outlookindia.com/website/story/hindutva-is-nothing-but-brahminism/215089


The author (Kancha Ilaiah) of Why I Am Not A Hindu on his view that 'Dalitisation' alone can effectively challenge the threat of Brahminical fascism parading in the garb of Hindutva.


How would you characterise contemporary Hindutva? What is the relationship between Hindutva and the Dalit-Bahujans?

As Dr.Ambedkar says, Hindutva is nothing but Brahminism. And whether you call it Hindutva or Arya Dharma or Sanatana Dharma or Hindusim, Brahminism has no organic link with Dalit-Bahujan life, world-views, rituals and even politics. To give you just one example, in my childhood many of us had not even heard of the Hindu gods, and it was only when we went to school that we learnt about Ram and Vishnu for the very first time. We had our own goddesses, such as Pochamma and Elamma, and our own caste god, Virappa. They and their festivals played a central role in our lives, not the Hindu gods. At the festivals of our deities, we would sing and dance--men, women and all-- and would sacrifice animals and drink liquor, all of which the Hindus consider 'polluting'.

Our relations with our deities were transactional and they were rooted in the production process. For instance, our goddess Kattamma Maisa. Her responsibility is to fill the tanks with water. If she does it well, a large number of animals are sacrificed to her. If in one year the tanks dry up, she gets no animals. You see, between her and her Dalit-Bahujan devotees there is this production relation which is central.



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In fact, many Dalit communities preserve traditions of the Hindu gods being their enemies. In Andhra, the Madigas enact a drama which sometimes goes on for five days. This drama revolves around Jambavanta, the Madiga hero, and Brahma, the representative of the Brahmins. The two meet and have a long dialogue. The central argument in this dialogue is about the creation of humankind. Brahma claims superiority for the Brahmins over everybody else, but Jambavanta says, 'No, you are our enemy'. Brahma then says that he created the Brahmins from his mouth, the Kshatriyas from his hands, the Vaishyas from his thighs, the Shudras from his feet to be slaves for the Brahmins, and of course the Dalits, who fall out of the caste system, have no place here. This is the Vedic story.

What you are perhaps suggesting is that Dalit-Bahujan religion can be used to effectively counter the politics of Brahminism or Hindutva. But Brahminism has this knack of co-opting all revolt against it, by absorbing it within the system.

It is true that although Dalit-Bahujan religious formations historically operated autonomously from Hindu forms, they have never been centralised or codified. Their local gods and goddesses have not been projected into universality, nor has their religion been given an all-India name. This is because these local deities and religious forms were organically linked to local communities, and were linked to local productive processes, such as the case of Virappa and Katamma Maisa whom I talked about earlier. But Brahminism has consistently sought to subvert these religious forms by injecting notions of 'purity' and 'pollution', hierarchy and untouchability even among the Dalit-Bahujans themselves, while at the same time discounting our religious traditions by condemning them as 'polluting' or by Brahminising them.

Riaz Haq said...

Hindu Violence against Buddhism in India has NO Parallel


by Syed Ehtisham


The ruthless demolition of Buddha statues by the Taliban leaders in Afghanistan has invited severe criticisms from different quarters of the world. It is quite surprising to note that the Hindu Nazi-led Indian Govt. supported by all other Hindu Nazis has condemned the Taliban action. It appears paradoxical that the ancestors of the present Hindu Nazis in India wantonly destroyed the Buddhist statues and brutally killed the followers of Buddha in India. An impartial student of history can unequivocally remark that the Indian Nazis have no moral right to criticise the Taliban action.

Hundreds of the Buddhist statues, Stupas and Viharas were destroyed in India between 830 AD and 966 AD in the name of the revival of Hinduism. Indigenous and foreign sources, both literary and archaeological, speak volumes of the havoc done to Buddhism by the Nazis in India.

Role of Sankaracharya
Nazi leaders like the Sankaracharyas and many kings and rulers took pride in demolishing the Buddhist images aiming at the total eradication of the Buddhist culture. Today, their descendants destroyed the Babri Masjid and they have also published a list of mosques to be destroyed in the near future. It is with this sin of pride that they are condemning the deed on the part of the Afghans.

The Hindu ruler, Pushyamitra Sunga, demolished 84,000 Buddhist stupas which had been built by Ashoka the Great (Romila Thaper, Ashoka and Decline of Mauryas, London, 1961, p 200). It was followed by the smashing of the Buddhist centres in Magadha. Thousands of Buddhist monks were mercilessly killed. King Jalaluka destroyed the Buddhist viharas within his jurisdiction on the ground that the chanting of the hymns by the Buddhist devotees disturbed his sleep. (Kalhana, Rajatharangini, 1:40). In Kashmir, King Kinnara demolished thousands of Viharas and captured the Buddhists villages to please the Brahmins. (Kalhana 1:80).

Demon’s role

A large number of Buddhist viharas were usurped by the Brahmins and converted into Hindu temples where the Untouchables were given no entrance. The Buddhist places were projected as the Hindu temples by writing Puranas which were concocted myths or pseudo-history.

The important temples found at Tirupati, Ahoble, Undavalli, Ellora, Bengal, Puri, Badrinath, Mathura, Ayodhya, Sringeri, Bodhgaya, Sarnath, Delhi, Nalanda, Gudimallam, NagarjunaKonda, Srisailam and Sabarimala (Lord Ayyappa) in Kerala are some of the striking examples of the Brahmanic usurpation of the Buddhist centres.

At Nagarjunakonda, the Adi Sankara played a demon’s role in destroying the Buddhist statues and monuments. Longhurst who conducted excavations at Nagarjunakonda has recorded this in his book Memoirs of the Archaeological Survey of India No: 54, The Buddhist Antiquities of Nagarjunakonda (Delhi, 1938, p.6.).

Non-Brahmins burnt alive
The ruthless manner in which all the buildings at Nagarjunakonda were destroyed is simply appalling and cannot represent the work of treasure-seekers because many of the pillars, statues, and sculptures have been wantonly smashed to pieces. Local tradition relates that the Brahmin teacher Sankaracharya came to Nagarjunakonda with a host of followers and destroyed the Buddhist monuments. The cultivated lands on which the ruined buildings stand was a religious grant made to Sankaracharya.

In Kerala, Sankaracharya and his close associate Kumarila Bhatta, an avowed enemy of Buddhism, organized a religious crusade against the Buddhists. We get a vivid description of the pleasure of Sankaracharya on seeing the people of non-Brahmanic faith being burnt to death from the book Sankara Digvijaya.